A no-frills bar called Goober's, just north of Providence, Rhode Island, is probably the last place you'd expect to find a debate over cutting-edge addiction therapy. But this is where Walter Kent, a retired mechanic, spends his Fridays. He helps in the kitchen and hangs out in the bar, catching up with old friends.
Most addiction specialists would call this playing with fire, or worse. That's because for more than 30 years, Kent was a hard-core alcoholic. His drinks of choice were Heineken beer and Jacob Ginger brandy, but anything with alcohol would do.
"It's like a little kid wanting a piece of candy. You see it, you want the taste of it." He closes his eyes and sniffs the air, remembering the feeling. "You can be by yourself, and all of a sudden get even a hint of alcohol, just the smell of it, and say, 'Oh, I need a drink.' That sensation is not something you can get rid of."
But today, Kent isn't tempted in the least. He says the credit goes to a prescription medication -- a pill called naltrexone. It's part of a new generation of anti-addiction drugs that may turn the world of rehab on its head.
Dr. Mark Willenbring, who oversees scientific research at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, says alcoholism has reached a point similar to one depression reached 30 years ago -- when the development of Prozac and other antidepressants took mental health care out of the asylum and put it in homes and doctors' offices. Read full article »
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