Of all the problems Americans have to deal with today, perhaps none is more pervasive and painful than addiction. With 45 million cigarette smokers, 22 million alcoholics, and millions more dependent on drugs; the United States leads the world in the percentage of adults with a dependency problem.
Unfortunately, most of our current medical, legal, and psychiatric approaches to the prevention and treatment of drug addiction have failed.
The stress caused by addiction is compounded when family members and the public at large consider dependency a character flaw.
Despite the enormous cost to society, minimizing addiction is not considered a high priority by state or federal policymakers. Dirk Hanson the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction would like to generate a national dialogue on the subject in order to minimize the pain and suffering.
Hanson’s research and analysis has led to the following insights:
- Addiction is a brain disease -- but not just a brain disease. It is a psychobiological illness with critical biological, behavioral, and social-context components. A host of factors conspires to make addiction a special case in the annals of medicine.
- Cigarette smoking is an early indicator. If there is a single, reasonably reliable behavioral marker for alcoholism and substance abuse, it is cigarette smoking. Nicotine, like alcohol, produces chemical changes throughout the body, and like all other drugs of abuse, has a focused effect on the reward pathway.
- Existing treatment programs— whether mandatory or voluntary—do not have any demonstrable effect on abstinence success rates. Most addicts get clean on their own. This reality suggests our health policy should not only encourage addicts to heal themselves, but also equip them with the medical tools they need.
- Drug wars do not work. Even when drug wars seem to be working, and demand goes down, lowered usage of a particular drug often disguises the fact that a new drug has replaced it. Demand for drugs is like a balloon—squeeze it in one place, and it bulges out somewhere else.
As part of the research for the Chemical Carousel Dirk Hanson interviewed the nation’s leading authorities on addiction including: Robert M. Post M.D., Chief of the Biological Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health; Miles Herkenham, Senior Investigator for Neuroscience at the NIH; Dr. T.K. Li, former director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Dr. Ovide Pomerleau, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan and co-founder of the Michigan Nicotine Research Library; and Steven M. Paul, M.D. Executive Vice President, Lilly Research Laboratories.
Note: Addiction is defined by the 4 C’s: loss of Control over use of the drug, Continued use despite adverse consequences, Compulsive use, and Craving in the absence of the drug.
If you would like to interview Dirk Hanson please contact Bill Hawkins or Veronica Lennon at 727-647-8453 (Tampa Bay).
Dirk Hanson is a freelance science reporter and author. His non-fiction books include The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction (Booksurge) and The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution (Little, Brown).
Hanson’s work has been favorably reviewed by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Fortune, New Yorker and other publications.
His articles have appeared in California Magazine, Omni, CoEvolution Quarterly, and the Whole Mind Newsletter. Dirk is a regular columnist focusing on the latest research related to addiction science for the highly regarded web site Brain Blogger.
Previously, he worked as a business and technology reporter for trade publications. He maintains his own blog at Addiction Inbox.
Hanson graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and received his M.A. degree in Humanities from California State University.
Praise for The Chemical Carousel
Science reporter Hanson presents a savvy, big-hearted exploration of the latest investigations into addiction science.
Well researched, written and edited, providing the most current/contemporary information available.
Midwest Book Review
If you, a friend or family member have an addiction problem, read this book.