In this piece on the New York Times Opinion Pages, Dr. Sack writes
Addiction has three main characteristics that cause it to be considered a disease. First, it has a lifelong course characterized by frequent relapses, cross addiction and a common set of behavioral changes. Second, like other chronic medical disorders, genetics plays an important role is determining who is at risk to become addicted. Finally, there are effective medications that treat drug addiction by blocking the rewarding effects of drugs and decreasing drug cravings.
Read the entire article here.
In an article on thefix.com, Dr. Sack talks about protracted withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is the name of the condition that leaves recovering addicts and alcoholics feeling the worse for wear. PAWS is a series of post-acute symptoms of recovery from dependence on drugs including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and opiates. Dr. Sack is quoted saying, “the brain has tremendous capacity to heal, but it doesn’t heal quickly. In general, PAWS symptoms peak around four to eight weeks after quitting.” Read the entire article here.
In “The High Risk of Relapse Leading to Accidental Overdose” on thefix.com, Dr. Sack explains that, for addicts who relapse, overdose is an all too frequent occurrence. Dr. Sack says that it is this combination that proves fatal: “The greatest risk to a person who is in early treatment and who relapses is the threat of overdose because they have no tolerance but also they often have poor judgment in how much they should be using.” Read the entire article here.