Science is moving forward in China, surgeons are treating addiction with brain implants

Deep brain stimulation (DBS), an experimental technology that involves implanting a pacemaker-like device in a patient’s brain to send electrical impulses, is a hotly debated subject in the field of medicine. It’s an inherently risky procedure and the exact effects on the human brain aren’t yet fully understood.

But some practitioners believe it could be a way to alleviate the symptoms of depression or even help treat Alzheimer’s – and now they suspect it could help with drug addiction as well.

In a world’s first, according to the Associated Press, a patient in Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital had a DBS device implanted in his brain to treat his addiction to methamphetamine.Other studies in China have yielded mixed results trying to treat opioid addictions using DBS, according to the AP. In the United States, at least two studies that tried to treat alcoholism with DBS were dropped for not being able to justify the risks.

The idea of using DBS to treat drug addiction has raised concerns in medical communities across the globe – and not just concerning the inherent risks of a brain hemorrhage, seizures, infections, or personality changes.

Some researchers argue that the precise relationship between the technique and drug addiction are not yet known and require further study. Animal studies have shown some signs of its effectiveness, but remain inconclusive.The idea of using DBS to treat drug addiction has raised concerns in medical communities across the globe – and not just concerning the inherent risks of a brain hemorrhage, seizures, infections, or personality changes.

Some researchers argue that the precise relationship between the technique and drug addiction are not yet known and require further study. Animal studies have shown some signs of its effectiveness, but remain inconclusive.


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