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Drug Addiction

When looking at drug use, drug abuse, drug dependency and drug addiction, one finds that there are many divergent opinions about these terms and how they identify the drug-using behaviors of the public. Dr. Alan Leshner, the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse for the U.S. Government, states: "There is a unique disconnect between scientific facts and the public's perception of drug addiction."

From a lecture in March 1998, at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Leshner explained how brain function is modified by drug use and how that change persists after an individual stops taking drugs. Addiction also has to be recognized as a result of many bio-behavioral factors.

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Dr. Leshner said a user does not have control over the change when voluntary drug use becomes a compulsive addiction. He likens the change to a flip of a switch, although the change may be a result of opponent processes where changes have accumulated over time. Regardless, Dr. Leshner believes it is important that people understand that once addicted, a person is literally in a different brain state.


Anyone who has known and witnessed the changes in behavior and ethics in a person caught in the thralls of addiction can see the declining spiral of personal care and ethics, work ethics, emotional stability and generally, a feeling that one hardly recognizes the addicted person as being the same individual as they were before the drug use.


One very important point to know is that any drug use may set off these destructive behaviors in an individual and that using drugs “recreationally” is playing Russian Roulette with one’s life. The effects of these “poisons” on the brain and nervous system are always destructive, but the timeline of when the effects will be obvious varies from immediately to, sometimes, after years of “casual” use.


The scientists say that one of the tasks of treatment is bringing the brain to its original state or repairing the damage that these poisons can do. Some scientists believe that this can be done by introducing other drugs, then called medicines, into the delicate brain chemistry of someone suffering from drug addiction. That is what National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is doing now as it begins to design new medications. "We have molecular targets," Dr. Leshner said.” We don't need serendipity." Serendipity is defined as “a natural gift for making useful discoveries by accident.”


However, don’t be fooled by the scientist since they have yet to discover any medications that restore a person to full and, more importantly, enthusiastic living. These “medicines” are always a tradeoff in giving up some of the beauties of life to keep the addict from using a more destructive drug. For a total cure, one should pursue getting the original poisons out of the body and letting the body’s natural repair mechanism restore the person to his original, functional and loving self.


Kent McGregor,
ACSW, LADC

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Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.

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