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A new breakthrough in fighting drug addiction has recently been developed in Israel. The new method uses a natural substance that creates a kind of an immune system against the drug thus preventing drug addicts from slipping back into their old habits.

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Drug addiction is one of the worst nightmares of modern society. The process of rehabilitation is a long and hard one and many drug addicts eventually return to the drug, but a new Israeli product may give them new hope of recovery.

Researchers, lead by Dr. Gal Yadid from the department of Neuropharmacology in Bar Ilan University, made an important discovery that might help rehabilitate drug addicts in a way not possible until today. Until now, the only way to rehabilitate a drug addict was by replacing one addiction with another. Addicts received a substitute called Methadone that is taken orally once a day and replaces drugs such as heroin, morphine, and other opioids. Methadone works by occupying opioid receptors in the brain, thus reducing the cravings associated with heroin use and blocks the high from heroin. Ultimately, the patient remains physically dependent on the opioid, but is freed from the uncontrolled, compulsive, and disruptive behavior seen in heroin addicts. Withdrawal from Methadone is much slower than that from heroin and many patients require continuous treatment, sometimes over a period of years.

Gal Yadid's idea works very differently than Methadone. While Methadone deprives the body of the pleasure associated with drug use, the new substance used by Yadid actually encourages pleasure. This new substance helps the body develop a kind of an "immune system" thus becoming resistant to the drug and preventing many of the Methadone related cases where drug addicts simply returned to the drug after a while.

This new substance is a steroid called DHEA and is produced naturally by the brain in small quantities. DHEA is also being given as a food supplement in the United States but in Yadid's research it was injected into the brain to achieve the desired effect.

The results of tests done in laboratory conditions were encouraging and recently a team of researchers started clinical tests in a rehabilitation center in central Israel. If this experiment produces similar results, the new treatment will mark a new era in the war against drugs.

Iddo Genuth

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