Alcoholism: Lack of willpower or physiological illness?

Posted July 11, 2011, at 11:52 a.m.

The New York Times reports on a new trend in diagnosing and treating addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

“Central to the understanding of addiction as a physical ailment is the belief that treatment must be continuing in order to avoid relapse. Just as no one expects a diabetes patient to be cured after six weeks of diet and insulin management, Dr. Alford said, it is unrealistic to expect most drug addicts to be cured after 28 days in a detoxification facility.

‘It’s not surprising to us now that when you stop the treatment, people relapse,’ Dr. Alford said. ‘It doesn’t mean that the treatment doesn’t work, it just means that you need to continue treatment.’ Those physical changes in the brain could also explain why some smokers will still crave a cigarette 30 years after quitting, Dr. Alford said.”

Read the story here.

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