Former Ohio State Neurosurgeon Spearheading Use of Brain Imaging in Addiction Treatment

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Doctors may soon have new tools for identifying and treating the parts of the brain stimulated by addictive substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol.

Dr. Ali Rezai, director of West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and former Ohio State researcher, is currently studying how MRI tech and other computer-enhanced imaging tools can potentially be used by researchers to treat addiction through magnetic stimulation and implants.

Previously, Rezai garnered praise for his outstanding research in using brain implants to treat Parkinson’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injuries. His new work in brain mapping has the potential to change how both medical practitioners and the general public treat and perceive addiction.

What Digital Imaging May Reveal about Addiction

In a recent presentation given during WVU’s third annual Academic Media Day, Dr. Rezai outlined how the brain can be digitally mapped to reveal how different brain wave activities are generated by a number of diseases including impulse-driven ones such as drug and alcohol addiction.

Rezai’s research, along with other studies concerning addiction and the brain, illustrates that addiction is a brain disorder, not a simple matter of a lack of willpower or a moral failing of some sort. Understanding this can help physicians, as well as the general population, avoid stigmatizing those with substance use disorders. This is important on several levels, not the least of which is that it will hopefully clear the way for those with substance use disorders to pursue addiction treatment without shame.

Additionally, the results of this study, which will be revealed over the next year, may help healthcare providers make better-informed decisions when treating addiction patients and dealing with at-risk populations in the near-term. WVU Medicine plans to expand their addiction programs to include treatments such as magnetic stimulation and implants to calm areas of the brain known to be responsible for drug and alcohol cravings. Tests are planned in both West Virginia and Ohio to measure the effectiveness of such treatments.

Potential Future Advances in Addiction Treatment 

While the results of this research are exciting, the future of addiction treatment holds much promise. Technologies such as machine learning, robotics, VR, and more advanced brain mapping technologies may help researchers further understand the mechanisms which cause addiction and may find ways to treat it more effectively.

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New technologies may one day help turn the tide for those with substance use disorders.

One thing is certain. The more researchers can discover about how the addicted brain works, the better their chances of developing treatment options that will help detect and minimize the effects of substance use disorder on those battling addiction.

Treatment is Already Available

Though it remains to be seen what the results of Rezai’s work will be with regard to addiction treatment, the good news is that those who suffer from substance use disorders already have a place to turn for effective treatment.

The Recovery Village Columbus is an Ohio drug rehab facility that offers a holistic approach to addiction treatment. Our compassionate addiction specialists work to design highly individualized treatment plans to meet the needs of each of our clients.

If you or any of your loved ones are currently suffering from addiction, help is one simple phone call away. Contact us to learn about admission and explore the treatment options that will work best for your unique situation.