Over the years, our attempts to stop drug use included stronger law enforcement, then jailing everybody and treating them in prison, then stronger punishments and mandatory treatment. The problem with all addiction treatment is that, afterward, we put them back on the street in the exact same environment that supports the addiction. Now, we’re trying to improve by intensifying these same failed approaches.
Yet, today, we understand addiction and have ways to prevent it, ways that cannot be implemented as long as the medical community ignores cutting-edge research showing genetic predisposition (Reward Deficiency Syndrome) to substance abuse, and childhood trauma as the activation of that predisposition. The interaction of the two results in Substance Use Disorder.
PREVENTION IS IMPORTANT AND POSSIBLE.
Prediction is now possible. “Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS) … is an identifier of polymorphic variances which predispose an individual to Substance Use Disorder, and other impulsive–compulsive behaviors and their root cause Reward Deficiency Syndrome …. provided a critical tool in stopping the cycle before it begins.” “We now have entered a new era in addiction medicine that embraces the neuroscience of addiction and RDS as a pathological condition in brain reward circuitry that calls for appropriate evidence-based therapy and early genetic diagnosis and that requires further intensive investigation.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225054/
Prevention is possible. “Dr. Kevin McCauley’s documentary Pleasure Unwoven defines addiction as a ‘stress induced defect, acting on a genetic vulnerability in the reward learning area of the mid-brain and the emotion choice area of the Frontal Cortex’. …. [C]hildhood trauma alters genetic expression, and the interactive variance results in increased substance use and/or abuse.” - https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/integrating-the-science-of-addiction-and-the-science-of-wellbeing-2329-6488-1000275.php?aid=92330 (This is a great review of a well-being approach to addiction treatment, including the needed change in attitude and stigmatization. Attached.)
So, Childhood Trauma is the First Level essential cause (of five progressive levels) in activating the genetic predisposition, a condition known as Reward Deficiency Syndrome, resulting in Substance Use Disorder.
Trauma response is a DCS assignment, one that our DCS is failing at.
The recent Indiana DCS director – in her letter of resignation – pointed out that prevention is possible, but not under inadequate funding.
Using the GARS predictor instrument, trauma prevention (avoiding genetic activation of RDS) can only be done by fostering healthy families and, failing that, community connections that replace the warm relationships developed in healthy families. Known connections points that are also failing to provide preventative support (in that they stigmatize addiction and drive away people suffering from genetic activation) include programs in church, employment, clubs, and other community organizations.
Legislative research, action and funding can thus direct funds to prevent Substance Use Disorder by fostering healthy families (the ideal DCS function) and promoting community connection points.