Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sanjay Gupta's documentary "Addiction: Life on the Edge"


On Saturday night April 18, CNN offered two showings of Sanjay Gupta’s one-hour documentary “Addiction: Life on the Edge”. The show will be repeated Sunday night.

CNN did not at first appear to have a permanent page for the program yet, but here is another blog (“Why don’t they just quit”?) referring to it. The show starts by posing the philosophical question as to whether addiction is a "character disorder" or a physical, probably genetic, probably metabolic and treatable disease. The show as a whole strongly confirms the latter.

Sunday, however, the following page appeared in the "Turner Newsroom" with the story "CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta Investigates Addiction -- is Medicine or Counseling Best?" link here. Also appearing now is an interview by Gupta with retiree Walter Kent, link here.

The early part of the show showed a number of rehabilitation centers (Promises, Hazelden, Ironwood, Betty Ford). Hazelden (in Minneapolis) showed a “red chair” in the group therapy lounge (like one I had in kindergarten), for patients put on the spot at crisis points in therapy. Month long stays cost about $30000, and insurance does not always cover it. The show was billed as covering a writer, student (teenage girl), a retiree, and mother.

Much of the show covered the heartbreaking story of a young man, Nic Sheff, who has gone off methamphetamine but relapsed several times, even after writing his book “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines”, published by Atheneum in early 2009. Although straight and having girl friends, he would hustle men in San Francisco to pay for his drug habit. The father has a book published at the same time, (by Mariner), "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction."

Gupta showed the brain scans of addicts, and explained how the drugs destroy the cognitive portions of the brain that regulate impulse control.

The show also covered "recovery high schools" which have been developed in several states as part of their public school systems.

There is medication which may reduce the cravings for many drugs, but drug treatment centers tend to use psychotherapy only (and cold turkey) and not use them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to know when this documentary will be shown again to spread the word. I tried Recovery 10 years ago (rehab, AA). But now am successful with AA and medication. I'm glad that the show focused that it is not a moral issue, but medical. Nonetheless, the stigma is so great that people fear or forgo getting help. Addiction, even though you are in Recovery, is used to take your kids away but if you had Diabetes or Epilepsy, a medical condition, you don't risk the lost of your children. Thus, seeking Recovery places you at risk of losing a lot despite it is the only way.

Anonymous said...

I know how to keep Nic Sheff sober! dont buy his books! I hate the fact that people use relapes to sell books. .U take away his drug problem and he wont have anything to say! I see him on TV with a smile on his face saying he just broke up with his girl friend so he popped a few pills,how weak are you man?....no one cares about the guy who worked his ass off never used and over come all odds ....but you say ya had a drug problem then everyone one is like " good job" ! Nic is just one of many who wouldnt be shit if he didnt fall off the wagon!So give him another book deal and put him on the TV so we can hear him cry about how bad he feels about how he loves feeling good! CTSwiston@aol.com