Chinese surgeons use brain implants to treat drug addiction

The Chinese surgeons are using deep brain stimulation surgery in order to stop a patient's addiction to drugs.


NSFW    SHANGHAI — Chinese surgeons are using deep brain stimulation or DBS to treat methamphetamine addiction in its first ever clinical trial, according to the Associated Press.

The technique involves a device being surgically implanted onto the brain. This would
stimulate targeted areas of the brain in an attempt to stop drug addiction.

The surgeon drilled two holes through the patient's skull and placed two electrodes at the nucleus accumbens. This part of the brain is believed to be connected with addiction.

Next, the man had a battery pack implanted on his chest to power the brain device. After two days, the doctor switched on the DBS devices to activate the electrodes.

According to the Associated Press, there are risks to the surgery. These include seizures, infection or potential death via a brain hemorrhage.

Critics believe that human experiments like this are at a premature stage and don't address biological, social and psychological factors that cause a person to become addicted in the first place.

There is also concern around issues regarding participants' informed consent in places such as China, The Associated Press reports.

Speaking to the Associated Press, investigators from similar U.S. based studies explained their attempts at trials for treating alcoholism were stopped. This was because study design and preliminary results didn't justify the risk.
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