Much of what we are learning in the 21st century about addiction as a chronic, often relapsing brain disease, and about the chemical and structural changes caused by substance abuse (whether that be of drugs or alcohol), is due to new imaging technologies, such as SPECT, PET and fMRI. These imaging technologies allow scientists and medical professionals to observe the live human brain in action.
I found this incredible illustration, “ Making Addiction Visual ,” by Lindsay Conchar and Sun Sentinel, for which I am sharing the link as I am unable to post it, here. I encourage you to open this illustration to better see what SPECT can show about the brain and substance misuse.
Additionally, I am including the information below, which is quoted from the Hanley Center , an addiction treatment center in Florida that uses SPECT as part of its addiction treatment. Please know that including this information from their website is NOT to be construed as an endorsement of the Hanley Center, rather as my effort to share some well-written explanations of SPECT and what it can do to help with addiction treatment. You may also wish to scroll through the posts in the category, “Brain Scans,” in the column to the right.
SPECT scans provide physicians with images that help them to analyze the function of internal organs, such as the brain. It uses an injected substance called a tracer and a special camera to create three-dimensional images.
A SPECT scan provides evidence of medical conditions that frequently contribute to chemical addictions, such as brain injuries or depression.
Doctors can use SPECT scans to make sure they don’t prescribe treatments that could hurt a patient, such as stimulants for an overactive part of the brain, or conversely prescribing a depressant that works on an underactive part of the brain.
A SPECT scan can demonstrate brain malfunctions that contribute to relapse behavior patterns for those in recovery. For example, damage to certain parts of the brain, such as prefrontal cortex or temporal lobes, can contribute to these behaviors.
For patients in recovery, a SPECT scan allows them to have a physical representation of their disease. That can lessen the shame, guilt, stigma and self loathing that often accompany the disease and foster self-forgiveness, an important step for recovery.
Viewing a SPECT scan image can help patients increase compliance by showing patients and their families that addiction is not a character problem, but rather a brain illness. Pictures are powerful and can lead more willingness and ability to adhere to a treatment program.
A SPECT scan can physically show how treatments have impacted (improved or worsened) brain functions.
Wanted to forward you info on another organization in Florida that specializes in SPECT scanning. NeuroSPECT of Florida is located in Brevard County and is accepting patients and referrals from practitioners for Brain SPECT scans. A NeuroSPECT scan can be utilized not only to illustrate brain damage from addiction, but also to help diagnose many other neurological disorders. Such as ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolarism, Depression, Alzheimer's disease, Epilepsy, PTSD, Traumatic brain injury, and much more. For further info, please visit www.NeuroSPECTofFlorida.com