Please Explain: Addiction

Friday, April 17, 2009

There are more than 20 million substance abuse addict in America today and about 2 million of them turn to residential rehab each year. CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us to explain the science behind addiction and the toll it takes on individual addicts.


Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Comments [17]

speedy0314nyc from manhattan

i know i'll probably get some heat for this, but i listened with great interest to this interview having battled alcohol & drug dependency most of my life.

i'd say that dr. gupta's presentation & answers were mostly even-handed & informative. i'm still not entirely sold on the notion that addiction is a 'disease' analogous to diabetes or cancer, but i won't quibble over semantics.

when the subject of AA & the 12-step method's 'effectiveness' came up, dr. gupta talked around the issue -- citing only hazelden's totally unsubstantiated 53%/1 year figure. most scientific studies come up with figures closer to 5 - 10%, much closer to the harvard medical school's finding of a 5% self-remittance rate.

as to the caller who recommended AA meetings & noted that AA members 'aren't all religious fanatics', i would say the following: 1) the caller violated AA's tradition 11 by 'promoting' AA in a public forum; 2) as a one-time AA member (6 years), i will agree that most AA members aren't 'religious fanatics'.

most AA members are 'go along/get along types' who drift away from the fellowship right around the same time i did. that said, some of the most emotionally unstable people i've ever met in my life were long-time AA members who used their 'sober time' & AA's theologically-driven 'big book' to bludgeon members into being exactly like them.

AA works for a very select few in the long-term. for most, it is a temporary respite or a completely useless, humiliating waste of time & commitment.

i'm glad to hear dr. gupta talk frankly about pharmaceutical approaches as well as the notion of 'alcoholism' being measured on a continuum, rather than AA's intransigent stance of 'progressive [spiritual] disease'.

Apr. 18 2009 03:04 PM
Amy from Manhattan

And Eric [14], Gupta didn't say all depressants were SSRIs. The question was about serotonin, so an answer about SSRIs was appropriate.

Apr. 17 2009 02:01 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Rachel [14]: I'm a medical editor, & I've worked on reports that say substance use disorders (as well as depression & several other mental health problems) are indeed more common in people who have ADHD, both as children & continuing into adulthood. Often one "masks" the other, so the ADHD goes untreated; treatment of both disorders together is much more successful than treatment of just one.

Apr. 17 2009 01:57 PM
Roberta Sutton from NYC

What about the role of being raised by a family with codependent and or addictive behavior??

Apr. 17 2009 01:57 PM
Eric from Jersey City

Isn't meth addiction much more about dopamine than serotonin? Also not all antidepresseants are SSRIs. Gupta's answers seem oversimplified.

Apr. 17 2009 01:52 PM
rachel from east village

Is there any research on whether there is a higher rate of addiction for people who had add as kids.

Apr. 17 2009 01:50 PM
M. Carroll from Downtown Manhattan

Repy to sara from nyc,

Lenny has had many specialist MDs on his program over the years. I like this gentleman because he is giving a good broad overview of the subject.

Apr. 17 2009 01:48 PM
Victor from NJ

I have a good deal of pleasure in listening to science shows and interviews with smart people on the radio. Is this an addiction?

Apr. 17 2009 01:48 PM
Waheed from Elmhurst, NY

Do Coffee drinkers, soft drink, Tea or any such food consumers give out same brain activities as Marijuana smokers.

Apr. 17 2009 01:47 PM
Ana from Summit, NJ

How about food adiction?

Apr. 17 2009 01:44 PM
John Eiche from Queens ny

Does addiction to a substance such as marijuana necessarily lead to an addiction to a substance more powerful because the receptors no longer respond to the less powerful substance?

Apr. 17 2009 01:43 PM
Phyllis from NYC

He is a good explainer.

Apr. 17 2009 01:39 PM
Neal from Manhattan

I've struggled with depression for years, can studying serotonin in addicts help understand depression?


Apr. 17 2009 01:37 PM
sara from nyc

I wonder why you are interviewing a fellow correspondent, albeit one with a medical degree, rather than someone who actually works in the field as a researcher or clinician. I do not watch CNN and I'd rather not be subjected to its brand of coverage by one of its celebrity correspondents in the form of a "please explain" segment on your show.

Apr. 17 2009 01:36 PM
Leonard Epstein from Chestnut Ridge, NY

Physicians typically espouse a biochemical and heredity model of addiction. I doubt that a "Budweiser gene" will ever be found that directly causes people to pick up and abuse substances. As a psychologist, I have treated addiction as learned maladaptive behavior or habits, helping individuals manage their impulses and needs (often including anger and dependency) in more functional ways. The same applies to people who overeat.

Apr. 17 2009 11:07 AM
Margaret Pettit from Huntington New York

We have addiction in our family and am very concerned about my son's addiction to video games. It seems he has been consumed by them since he could play them, but lately, as a 16 year old it takes over all of his free time. How do we help him? Does a bottom need to occur for this type of addict like it would for a drug addict in order for the person to seek help?

Apr. 17 2009 10:36 AM
jo from manhattan

I am concerned that my 13 year old son is addicted to an internet game. Is this type of addiction similar to substance addiction? Is his current behavior an indcator for developing other addictions in the future? We are trying to address the issue - it's very tough.

Apr. 17 2009 09:53 AM

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