Professor Henri Begleiter, PhD, of the State University of New York, believes that his findings regarding brainwaves have definite applications in treating and preventing addiction. He believes that it is possible to use behavioral and pharmacological means to reduce the hyper excitability in young adolescents who are at risk. He also believes that intense education as to the dangers of addiction should commence at a very early age.
There has already been some success in the field. Knowing the effects of addictive drugs on the brain has helped in the development of medication to reduce cravings: methadone in the case of heroin addicts, naltrexone in the case of alcoholics and buproprion in the case of nicotine.
Research can also assist in the way we educate people regarding addiction in that it provides information to impart to patients and families, to help them understand their addiction ? why it has occurred and that it is a disease and not just a lack of willpower. Knowing that you have an inherited proclivity to addiction makes it easier to learn the necessary techniques to avoid alcohol and drugs early in life.
It is also important to have treatment programs in place that reinforce changes in addictive behavior. To impress upon people that casual drug or alcohol use can set biological factors in motion – not the other way around.
Changes in behavior can also alter brain function. Recovering alcoholics know to avoid people, places and things that they used to associate with drinking. This change weakens the link between drinking and pleasure that has been encoded in their brains.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse believes the most effective treatment programs combine medication, therapy, social services, rehabilitation and self help groups.