In its September issue, National Geographic's cover story examines the science of drug addiction. The article claims drug use can change the wiring in an addict's brain making the addiction very difficult to treat.
National Geographic writer Fran Smith, author of the 'The Science of Addiction' article, joined us Wednesday and says research shows addiction causes the brain to focus on the object of desire and block out other things of value.
Smith says at the same time, parts of the brain that are responsible for exercising judgment and assessing risk are compromised. "This whole picture has really convinced lots and lots of people that addiction is a chronic relaxing brain disorder," she said.
Addiction, Smith says, takes over the fundamental mechanisms that drive and control desire. "The brain is completely out of balance in that sense." Smith says that some treatments include experimental therapy and medications.
The opioid crisis, Smith says, has increased the public awareness of addiction. She says a law enforcement office working to fight the opioid epidemic told her that treatment and prevention – not arrests – are key in solving the problem of addiction.