tv Washington Journal Fran Smith Discusses the Science of Addiction CSPAN September 16, 2017 9:04am-9:37am EDT
remember what is in them? the reason for shredding documents and the reason that the government gave me a shredder was to destroy documents that were no longer relevant, that should not be divulged. >> for the past 30 years the video library is your free resource for politics, congress, and public affairs. whether it happened 30 years ago or 30 minutes ago, find it in c-span's video library at www.c-span.org. c-span, where history unfolds daily. >> washington journal continues. host: our guest joining us now from new york city is fran smith who is the author of this national geographic piece called "the science of addiction." thank you for joining us. guest: thank you for having me. host: what is the definition of addiction?
what exactly is it and what does it mean and where does an addiction come from? , it isaddiction means the repetition of a behavior so compulsively that it just takes over your life. repeated,eated, repeated, pursue the activity, even at thence, cost of life devastating consequences. definition of addiction isn't tied to a particular job or alcohol necessarily. -- you canpredicted be addicted to behaviors. the definition has changed over the years to recognize it is the pursuit of that activity at all costs, even at life-changing consequences for yourself and loved ones. host: how prevalent our addictions of all kinds right now in the country and what are the most significant ones?
guest: addiction is one of the major health problems in the united states right now. opioid addiction is getting a lot of attention, rightly so. more people now die of prescription overdoses and heroin overdoses than die in car accidents, nearly 60,000 deaths a year. alcohol claims far more lives. alcohol is a major addiction. behavioral addiction, there is greater appreciation for the toll of gambling and compulsions like compulsive shopping and eating. , -- when youd up add it up, one in 10 people in the united states is struggling with addiction and almost every life is touched by it. know have, most of us seen the kind of cycle of addiction, recovery, addiction
recovery. that battle. host: we will dig into your peace and just a moment because there is interesting science going on but we want to invite the viewers to phone in. we will separate the lines this way, if you are impacted by addiction of any kind, call this number (202)-748-8000. if you are a specialist in the area of addiction, your number would be (202)-748-8001. everyone else call (202)-748-800 2, we hope to get a wider variety of viewpoints. , you have a picture of a young lady in this piece, who became addicted to heroin two decades ago after taking prescription pain pills. last year she was living in a homeless and can't meant in seattle. "addictionite that hijacks the neural pathways but
scientists are challenging the view that it is a moral failing and are researching treatments that can offer an exit from this cycle that attracts tens of millions of people." what kind of science is out there now? is amazingscience and that was one of the things that was so compelling to me in writing the story. brain in affects the hundreds of ways. it changes and effects some of the most primitive parts of our brain. part of the brain that is programmed to want rewards. we have evolved to recognize rewards, all organisms know how to recognize food, reproductive opportunities. that most fundamental mechanism for survival is really what is in play an addiction. as you said, you use the word hijacked.
it is a word that is used a lot for addiction. instead of becoming a mechanism for survival it is a mechanism of self-destruction. , our highest order of functions, the parts of the brain that think and make good decisions and evaluate risk, even while addiction is changing the primitive part it is diminishing the ability of those higher order functions to put the lid on desire. that combination is devastating. host: you also report on treatments that are out there for a gentleman named patrick. there is a picture of him in national geographic. a serious cocaine addict who relapse after several terms of treatment. the application of electromagnetic pulses to his prefrontal cortex, one of the
many experiments that are happening out there. on with this particular gentleman these days and with this type of treatment? guest: patrick was a wonderful story. he lives in italy. usesreatment electromagnetic waves. it is basically a little shock to the head. you sit in a dentist chair and there is an apparatus, it is painless. i tried it out, it is painless but it feels weird. changes the electrical activity in the brain. in his case and in the experiment he is part of, it is trying to jack up the brain's ability to say no to drugs. patrick was somebody -- he started using cocaine as a teenager. he was addicted late in his teens and his whole life
revolved around cocaine. he had a relationship with a child, his addiction destroyed all of that. he has been in and out of rehab. at one point he was in for eight months and that left the country and landed at the airport and then called his dealer. he was desperate. his mother read a newspaper article about this experimental treatment and he started thinking, what have i got to lose? it turned out to be transformative for him. onre is a lot of work to do this technology because it is so experimental and these are small studies. but for him and other people i interviewed, it has changed their life. he has no interest in cocaine and he is thriving. host: calls for fran smith following the discussion of her reporting. from clearwater, florida, you are calling on the line for
those impacted by addiction. tell us your story. caller: my story is, i am a teacher and basically i am part of the aa fellowship. is that,ught about it it is, that there is not a cure for alcoholism. that thenly can be -- of session can be lifted. i am wondering if there is concrete science that there eventually will be a cure for alcoholism? that is a great question. thank you so much for calling in. that is the hope. that is the holy grail. there is nothing on the horizon that is a sure bet, take this pill or try this therapy or get this electronic zap to the head and you are
cured. everyone has been through treatment, people have been successful, and we were just talking about the gentleman in italy. time will tell. people really need ongoing throughthrough aa, narcotics anonymous, through all kinds of self-help groups and psychosocial support. one day maybe there will be a cure but that is not imminent. from portlia washington, new york. you are on with fran smith. caller: good morning. i'm surprised you didn't find anything on this. i would have liked it if you did. actually, that is what you should have done, realized what atkins, dr. atkins was saying, professor at cornell. he said you don't need to do psychiatry. corn andto remove,
rice out of our diet. the federal budget uses our taxpayer money to why wheat, corn, and rice. we are sending it to pakistan now. this is what is causing all the unrest in the brain, all the damage to the brain. i would like you to look into this, not now, but so that investors will go away from wheat, corn, rice. all the people out there suffering from addiction, you all should do this. host: cecilia, thank you for calling. any response there? think that there really is no evidence that wheat, corn, and rice are solely responsible for addiction.
and that would be my response. write in national geographic that not long ago the idea of repairing the brain's wiring to fight addiction would have seemed far-fetched but advances and narrow science upended conventional notions about addiction. what it is and what can trigger it and why quitting is so tough. who is doing most of the work, the best work right now in this area? guest: there is a huge amount of work being done by the national drug abuse.f rugge most of the research going on in this country is funded by one of those two agencies. on aroundork going the world in universities. a huge amount of work. science has progressed in magnificent ways.
treatment has not progressed as fast as science. scientists know a lot about what is happening in the brain. some progress in translating that to treatment but not as much as we need. terri from johnstown, pennsylvania. good morning. i have been an addict for several years due to start out being put on percocet for pain. when i was 17 i hurt my back. and afteras terrible i got the pills, doctors kept giving me the pills. i would complain about the pain. the pills no longer worked so they would up your dose. mine, i havewith
health issues. i need them. replaced. and i fight with this addiction because, you need more, and doctors give you all this and then tried to take it down. people say, well, they go to the street drugs. it is like a roller coaster, you know? i have been an addict for 40 years. it is terrible. host: the question for our guest? ,aller: my question would be how does the government feel or how does anyone feel that they
are going to stop the opioid trying toby lowering, get them on a lower dose after being on such a high dose to begin with, the doctors? terri, thank you for sharing your situation with us. the best team. -- the best of luck to you. guest: i have heard that story so many times. withe who started off prescription painkillers to address pain issues. and ended up in a situation like that. first of all, on the national geographic website we have a great list of resources to you terri or anyone who is looking for help, go to nationa lgeographic.com. for opioids, there are treatments out there.
i was saying that treatment has not progressed as quickly as science but on the flip side there are effective treatments, medical treatments for opioid addiction. in 10 people who could benefit actually get the treatments. be much moreds to accessible and more widely available and there are resources on the website. inre is a real resistance the recovery community and the addiction community to using drugs to treat a drug addiction. that after study has shown it is effective. especially when combined with counseling. and that it really reduces the risk of harm and an overdose death. host: a call from durham, north carolina for fran smith from national geographic. caller: good morning, mrs. smith.
i had a friend who indirectly obeserom being morbidly because she had an eating compulsion. , what isike to know the science saying or the latest thinking on an unhealthy relationship with food, which i think is also an addiction? as compared to being addicted to substances? i would just like to know how the two things relate or if the science is looking at that? host: thank you for calling. fran smith. guest: it is a great question. there is a lot of interest in that and there are a lot of scientists that would agree with you. that it is still in addiction. it is still controversial. the medical or psychiatric establishment does not recognize it as an addiction as they recognize gambling as an addiction. there is a lot of research. in an article, i read about a
researcher in new york who has done fascinating animal studies. sugar and highr fatty foods with the same compulsion that they will go for cocaine. of good evidence that substances in our foods are eatingve and a lot of problems and weight problems we see in this country are tied to that compulsive, addictive pattern. the other thing, some of the asatments that we are seeing promising and useful for drug addiction are also promising for eating issues. whatever you want to call them. overeating or an eating addiction. in a story i read about mindfulness and attended a group . mindfulness is a practice-based in buddhism but it trains you to focus on the craving and not to fight it but just notice it.
so much of these compulsions are driven almost unconsciously. you don't even recognize it. it trains you how to focus on it and recognize it but not necessarily act on it. , 30tended a group of people people all their to deal with their cravings for food. not easy. you have to work at it. again, i talked to a number of people, it has changed their life and their relationships with food. host: here is an example of what is happening research wise with gambling. this rat, a simulation is lured by the same types of flashing lights and throbbing sounds that keep humans playing in casinos. the rat will consistently poke at the one with the biggest payout, but the smallest chance of winning. using similar studies, a neuroscientists in british
linked dopamine receptors to risky decision-making. that was one of the interesting things to me. i went into this, thinking, how do you teach a rat to gamble? they trained them to push the lever, and what you said is the core of it. the behaviors are very similar to what you see, the compulsion becomes very similar to what you see with drug addiction or out the holism. -- or alcoholism. , whenanges in the brain you put people into brain show them pictures of slot machines or poker or whatever they're gambling game of choices, their brains respond the same way you would see
someone who is a habitual cocaine user respond to photos of cocaine. byt: pat is impacted addiction. what is your story? caller: opioid addiction. it wasn't as hard as i thought it would be, without call, i have been doing very well. cigarettes, the most addictive drug on earth. thank you. host: fran smith? guest: thank you for your call, that is a great point. most people who struggle with addictions struggle with multiple addictions. in many cases the other addiction is tobacco. one billion people around the
world smoke. thecco is implicated in leading causes of death in this country and the world. there are treatments for it. there are medical treatments, psychological treatments. but it is something that again, alcoholthe hall -- with , we have to pay attention to the opioid addiction because it is a huge problem. i hope this is an opportunity to shine the light on all the addictions that are devastating to people. including one that is so common and we see everyday witches tobacco. host: tell us -- guest: that we see every day, which is tobacco. host: what are scientists learning their? ere? when you use certain
substances, cocaine for example, , the rewardohol system becomes hypersensitive to the substance. , the rewardtime system flattens out in response to other things so that other : dinner with a friend, shopping, whatever your pleasure might have been, no -- the as the loral lower it once did. one of the more fascinating studies i heard about, people become responsive to cues. it is the site of the drug or drug dealer or a crack pipe. people respond to that and that is one of the things that make it hard to stay off even after quitting. from the university of
pennsylvania, people who had cocaine addictions were in a scanner and the researchers flashed photos of crack pipes, , soer, and other stimuli quickly, the 10th of the time it takes to blink an eye. people didn't consciously see the stimuli but the brain responded to them in the same way the brain would respond if they were actually in the room holding that stuff. in waysn is tuned in that are not even conscious to us and that is the reward system that has evolved to be exquisitely tuned in to rewards in the environment. host: we have time for a couple more calls. george has been waiting in elkton, maryland. george, we understand your impacted by addictions. tell us your story.
caller: that is correct. my father was an alcoholic. i have two boys that are in recovery from heroin. watched the government slowly respond to the crisis of addiction and specifically the opioid addiction. one thing i don't see the government doing is addressing the issue of, is this a choice or is this a necessity? i think there is a lot of research and documentation that says it is a necessity but until we change that perception, people who are struggling with addiction will be marginalized people thatn, say, are dealing with other types of physical issues.
when do you think the government is going to start adjusting this part of our issue? thank you. guest: thank you for your call. a really important question. about -- the medical establishment recognizes that addiction is a disease. at the highest levels of the federal government, the surgeon general issued a report last fall, on addiction. it was unequivocal on that. it is congregated because people have to make a choice to quit. what you seeing with the opioid epidemic is that at the level of state government and municipal government and communities and states that have been ravaged by this nightmare, there is a real change in attitude about addiction.
about people who struggle with addiction. i was in west virginia which has the highest rate of opioid , inhs in the country huntington, west virginia. a man who is now in charge of dealing with the addiction problem, the former police chief down there said, he had always thought of it as an issue of crime and law enforcement. he realized that we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. that the only solution is harmssionate treatment, reduction, programs like needle exchange. a needle exchange, so until people are ready to quit and go through recovery, people can be safe. i have seen at that level just incredible shifts. host: one more call, one meter from cincinnati.
what would you like to say -- juanita from cincinnati. what would you like to say? caller: i was just reading something a few days ago saying only 7% of our medical schools do adequate training in teaching .uture doctors oncology being there for so many years and looking at freshman class is , maybe someone can correct me from cincinnati, but if i am not mistaken through their whole undergraduate education they get one semester on addiction. i think the problem would be solved if we as taxpayers insisted that are teaching hospitals, our state university hospitals began teaching more and more thorough court is --
more and more thorough courses, the books are there. having the research is fine. but if the faculty doesn't teach the students how to correctly prescribed the medicine and what happens to the brain, then it is all for not. change thated to medicine asadigm in suggested by the studies if we want to get a hold of the situation. thank you. host: thank you for calling. final thoughts for fran smith on her piece and where the science is headed? reallyi think we are heading toward understanding exactly what is going on in the brain. with that understanding we understand that it is really not a moral failing. it is not a lack of willpower. ,nce people are hooked
something has happened physically, chemically, structurally, throughout the brain that traps them. yes they can and ultimately many people to make the choice to quit but it is a physical problem. these, the like opioid addiction certainly opened up the discussion about addiction and i would hope that it causes us to look very broadly at all the addictions and think about treatment and position training and recovery in a much more comprehensive way and in a compassionate way. is the authorth of this piece in national geographic. thanks a lot for your time.
we appreciate you coming by and explaining that these to us. guest: thank you so much for having me. we have about -- host: we have about 25 minutes left in this edition of washington journal. when we come back we will focus in on the story and take your comments on a story that sits at the intersection of sports and politics and race. jemel hill oft espn. and this weekt she made a statement by twitter that president trump is a white supremacists. that caused all sorts of reaction, including for the white house which is calling for her firing. out there inons the sports world, the political world and elsewhere. we want to get your comments on the white house calling for the firing of this espn host. (202)-748-, call
8000. if you disagree, call (202)-748- 8001. well, ant you to know as jeffries will be our guest on newsmakers. here is a short piece from that interview. >> you think you can take back the house with nancy pelosi as your leader? >> i certainly think so. we did it once and we can do it again. was part of taking the house back in 2006, with an unpopular president and a do-nothing congress. we are sort of in that situation right now. very unpopular president and a do-nothing congress that can not
get anything accomplished for the american people. the playbook is to demonize nancy pelosi and perhaps they believe they have had some success with that in deeply red republican districts. what happened out in montana or kansas for instance as representative examples of the playing field that we are going to confront in 2018. there are more districts in play in 2018. win a need to do is to fraction of that in order to get back into the majority. districts in those will be looking for who can deliver results? nancy pelosi over the last few weeks has been very effective as a master