The Washington Post reports that the surgical intervention, deep brain stimulation (already approved to treat epilepsy and Parkinson’s), has been used to treat drug addiction. Gerod Buckhalter allowed surgeons to cut two nickel-size holes in his skull and plunge metal-tipped electrodes into his brain. The electrodes produce electrical impulses that regulate the brain and affect the chemicals and reactions within the brain. “Buckhalter still requires anti-drug mediation, counseling, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He still experiences cravings, depression, and the anxiety that drove his drug use, but for more than 600 days after he underwent the experimental surgery, Buckhalter has not touched drugs again.”

My reaction: When my son was in active addiction, I searched for a ‘silver bullet’ to cure the disease. I wanted a pill, a person, something or someone to cure him. There was nothing. 

Today’s Promise to consider: Research is shedding light on the disease of addiction and identifying methods for curbing or stopping drug abuse. Deep Brain Stimulation might become a viable option in the future, but according to Ali Rezai, director of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University, who performed Buckhalter’s surgery, “This is not a magical cure. And it’s not going to work for everybody. This is a treatment that allows you to dial down the anxiety, improve the mood, make people more in charge of their bodies, make them less fragile and susceptible.” For my son, recovery was a slow build as he worked the steps, developed a relationship with a higher power, and fellowshipped with others living in the solution. Medical treatments are increasingly effective, but I believe they must be paired with the painstaking process of working a program.


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2 years ago

I know exactly what you are saying Libby. My son in addition to addiction has a serious mental health issue which also seems to be helped by deep brain stimulation. I actually believe and hope that his mental health problems will be much better once his addiction is under control. As far as I can tell the magic bullet is working the steps and finding connection in a supportive community. Since our son has fully bought in to AA the transformation has been extraordinary. One day at a time

Susan McKeown
Susan McKeown
2 years ago

While it is wonderful to know he has remained substance free for 600 days, it is discouraging to learn that He still experiences cravings, depression, and the anxiety that drove his drug use.