Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Substance Addiction Treatable, Says New Report

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Substance Addiction Treatable, Says New Report

Article excerpt

Substance dependence is as much a disorder of the brain as any other neurological or psychiatric disorder, says a new report launched by WHO on 18 March 2004. The report also says that recovery from substance dependence is possible.

"While we still do not know to what extent it is curable--given the long-term alterations in brain functioning that result from substance abuse--we do know that recovery from dependence is effective through a number of effective interventions," said Dr Catherine Le Gales-Camus, Assistant Director-General from WHO's department of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.

Neuroscience of Psychoactive Substance Use and Dependence, the first report of its kind by WHO and three years in the making, summarizes the latest scientific knowledge on the subject and concludes that substance dependence is determined not only by biological and genetic factors but also by psychosocial, cultural and environmental factors.

It also calls for more awareness of the complex nature of the problem--in particular, how genes interact with environmental factors to sustain psychoactive substance-using behaviours--in order to better inform the development of new diagnostic tools and behavioural and pharmacological treatments. It supports effective policies, prevention and treatment approaches combined with the development of community-based interventions that do not stigmatize patients. …

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