Nora Volkow: Two paths to the future  pg. 3

While she firmly believes in the disease model, Volkow is quick to point out that addiction is not simply the result of particular genes and brain chemicals. “Predisposition is not predetermination,” she told a congressional subcommittee last April. “Environment and other biological factors, including family, culture and community, are of great importance to the development of addiction and are essential to its prevention.”

Drugs aren’t the only way to treat addiction. Imaging studies can validate the effectiveness of cognitive and behavioral therapies, as well. Potentially they may help identify social interventions that protect young people from abusing drugs in the first place.

“I always take two paths,” Volkow explains, “one path that is going to lead us to the science and the knowledge that will really revolutionize the way that we treat drug addiction, so that five or 10 years from now we will be treating drug addiction completely differently.

Volkow administers a contrast agent prior to a PET study in 1990.  In the background are research nurse Noel Netusil, R.N., (left) and technician Renee Modell, now a nuclear medicine physician.
Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory
“But at the same time, developing strategies that can benefit those that are afflicted by addiction, or interventions that can prevent the use of drugs. We need to get science that looks into the future… but we also need to address the needs right now.”

Volkow’s path started in the house where her great-grandfather was murdered.

Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, Trotsky was a brilliant political theorist and proponent of permanent worldwide revolution by the working class. Founder of the Red Army, he was second only to Vladimir Lenin during the early years of Bolshevik rule. After Lenin’s death in 1924, Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union when Joseph Stalin took control of the government and launched a purge of his rivals.

Trotsky lived for a few years in Turkey, then in France and Norway before eventually finding refuge in Mexico City, where he continued to write books critical of the Stalin regime. Family members who remained in the Soviet Union were imprisoned or shot. In 1940—shortly after his grandson Esteban moved from Turkey to join him—Trotsky was assassinated by one of Stalin’s agents.

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