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China Medicine Science

China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction 385

kkleiner writes "A small handful of doctors in China are using a highly controversial procedure to rid people of drug addiction by destroying a part of patients' brains. The procedure involves drilling small holes into the skulls of patients and inserting long electrodes that destroy a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This area, often referred to as the "pleasure center" of the brain, is the major nucleus of the brain's reward circuit. Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?" The practice has been officially banned, but apparently continues nonetheless.
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China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction

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  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:31PM (#42429563) Homepage Journal

    Most of the West, the U.S. included, was big on this kind of "experimentation" (i.e. lobotomies as a kind of medical treatment) a few decades ago. No need for Hitler here.

    On a positive note, much of our current knowledge of how the human brain works comes from destruction of various kinds, either from intentional and misguided treatment or from strokes. The side effects are often interesting.

  • by WWJohnBrowningDo ( 2792397 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @09:54PM (#42429709)
    The first transorbital lobotomy was performed in 1946, one year after Hilter's death.

    Lobotomies stopped being routine in the 70's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @10:57PM (#42430077)

    Wait what?

    Did you have a botched circumcision, or did you willfully have your penis removed as part of a surgical transformation into a vagina?

    I don't mean to seem callous, but I am amazed the AMA allows doctors to mutilate people, even if they feel like they really need to be mutilated. IMHO there is a huge difference between a male circumcision and a sex change operation gone wrong...

  • by Internetuser1248 ( 1787630 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @11:22PM (#42430217)
    The worst thing about this is that it is totally uneccesary. There was a study in the '60s that showed that targeted therapy in combination with psychedelic drugs can cure addiction with a very high success rate (compared to other methods) and almost no side effects. After lsd was made illegal research stopped but recently people have continued the program with ibogaine []. The research is still far too preliminary for conclusive results but the fact that a potential treatment exists makes brain surgery even more inadvisable.
  • by almechist ( 1366403 ) on Monday December 31, 2012 @05:31PM (#42436179)

    Moderators, please mod him up as informative. Here is the take away paragraph.

    Early data suggests that a period of approximately two years of intermittent treatments may be required to attain the goal of long-term abstinence from narcotics and stimulants for many patients. The majority of patients treated with Ibogaine remain free from chemical dependence for a period of three to six months after a single dose...

    Sorry, I do have points, but... No can do, on the upmod. If you spend some time on any of the sites that are genuinely run by and for addicts and ex-addicts, you will find many, many personal stories posted by sometimes desperate addicts who have actually tried ibogaine therapy. The basic message seems to be, no, it does not work, with actual results that are a far cry from the way the drug has sometimes been portrayed in the media and in the few very limited and suspect studies done to date. Ibogaine is in the same category as so-called "ultra-rapid detox" type treatments, which is to say that while it does have its true believers, the vast majority of those who actually undergo the treatment don't see anything remotely like the promised results. Most discover this to their chagrin only after spending huge amounts of money. The sad truth is, there is currently no overnight and/or one-time procedure that will cure addiction. Of course there isn't, it's an extremely complex and still imperfectly understood condition with causes deeply-rooted in both personality and brain chemistry. So like the mythical free lunch, there simply is no such thing as a miracle cure for addiction, and I don't see much hope there ever will be.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."