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Overview of Treatment, Brain Area Tied to Problem Gambling

Several recent stories on treatment inspire us to review where it is, what changes the Affortable Care Act might bring, and some of its history. Tom McLellan, Deputy Director of the government Office of Drug Control Policy, was interviewed on a recent NBC series Hooked: America's Heroin Epidemic. A much respected addiction research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, McLellan was devastated by the death of of his younger son from mixing pills and alcohol, and thought here he was - an expert in the field - yet not able to assist his own family, much less the rest of those suffering from addictions. He found that treatment in general was in a sorry state, and he founded the non-profit Treatment Research Institute, aimed at developing science-based solutions to addiction. His conclusions include the idea that we need more quality treatment programs, such as airline pilots and doctors have. "It's simple," says McLellan, "five years of care, beginning with rehab, progressing through stages of monitoring, and ending up in an out-patient setting. That's it: acute care, monitoring, and consequences. It works so well, that pilots keep their jobs while they're in it."

We also look at new research from the University of Cambidge which has identified the insula cortex, which is part of the cerebral cortex, as being an area where, when its overactive, leading compulsive gamblers to "chase their losses." The area is also thought to be involved with other addictions.

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