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.