03 Feb How Brain Implants Can Be Used to Fight Addiction
Recent studies in the area of addiction have shined some light on an interesting new treatment for the drug-addled individual: brain implants. Brain implants have been proven to be useful in multiple studies that aimed to test their ability to reduce cravings and other addictive behaviors even after struggling to complete rehabilitation.
This article explores the use of brain implants for addiction treatment. Though brain implants are unlikely to become everyday consumer products anytime soon, it doesn’t hurt to learn about them now so that you can be prepared for when they do arrive on the market. Though controversial, there is no denying that such bionic implants can be helpful in certain situations – especially if your loved ones saw minimal success with drug and alcohol rehab.
How Do Brain Implants Work?
The idea of a brain implant might sound shocking to you, but if you’ve been following up with neuroscience over the years then you probably won’t be surprised to learn that more than 180,000 people have already received brain implants.
These implants have been useful for helping to manage a variety of conditions ranging from Parkinson’s to depression and anxiety.
A brain implant involves the insertion of an electrode into the brain. This electrode produces a set frequency to create the desired result in a specific brain area. It will also scan for changes in brain activity or frequency, pausing or adjusting the strength of its own electric current when necessary. The effect is not that much different than that of a pacemaker.
Brain Implants for Addiction
Using brain implants for addiction is a relatively new idea spurred by studies done on patients with Parkinson’s disease. These patients had received brain implants that operate in a key part of the brain that is heavily involved with both Parkinson’s and addictions of all types.
This area is the mesolimbic reward pathway, a neural channel through which dopamine, one of the chief neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of wellness and motivation, flows. This pathway is triggered, or activated, anytime that we participate in a behavior that is beneficial for our survival as an organism: eating good food, exercising, having sex, and so on.
You may have noticed that the things listed above – food, exercise, sex, and drugs – can all be the object of addiction. Some people lack the required neural mechanism to prevent a feedback loop from being activated, thus falling into a perpetual cycle of chasing the dopamine rush and the associated feelings of accomplishment and self-confidence.
Brain Implants for Opioid addiction
Known as deep brain stimulation, this treatment involves inserting small wires into the brain. In the case of opioid addiction and Parkinson’s disease, they are introduced into the nucleus accumbens, an area where dopamine is delivered by the mesolimbic reward pathway.
The idea is that stimulating this area can reduce cravings, thus allowing people to focus on the executive functioning of other areas of the brain and, ideally, reducing the need for further rehab.
So far, there have only been a few patients to receive the treatment. However, they report significant reductions in cravings and improvements in quality of life.
Deep brain stimulation is a relatively new form of treatment that has been used to manage various physical and mental health conditions. It has recently been studied for its Effectiveness and fighting addiction.
Although there haven’t been many studies done, those that have been completed show significant promise. As the technology improves and becomes more accessible, it’s likely that more patients will be receiving brain implants for drug addiction.