Conversation with an addiction expert – Chris Evans, opiate master
Posted Mar 03 2011 1:36pm
Here at A3 we have already armed you with over 400 articles’ worth of knowledge on a wide variety of topics such as sex , gambling , and alcohol addictions. Our articles have in the past been written mostly by the team members at A3 (with a few notable guest pieces) based upon research findings and personal experience. Now we decided to expand our reach and get a different kind of perspective, broadening the knowledge we are able to provide to you and providing you expert opinion on commonly asked questions that the public often has about addiction.
Our first expert is Christopher J. Evans (PhD) who is a professor in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In addition to his work at the school of medicine, Evans is also a part of the UCLA Opioid Research Center, and Shirley and Stefan Hatos Center for Neuropharmacology. Evans is particularly interested in opioid drugs and is currently working on discovering the differential signaling at opioid receptors. Some of his past work has touched on withdrawal and on the theory of opponent processes involved in withdrawal , a counter to the theory that a rebound from over-activation is the whole story in the withdrawal process.
11 answers from an addiction expert
1 ) How did you become interested/specialized in addiction research?
Following my PhD studies in protein chemistry where I studied enkephalins and endorphins – opioids in our brains .
2 ) If you had to sum-up your “take” on substance use disorders in a few sentences, what would those be?
A sad disease where an obsession develops for an abused substance that creates fluctuating hedonic states. Increasingly there is decline to a negative hedonic state that can only be relieved by the abused drug .
3 ) What have been the most meaningful advances in the field in your view over the past decade?
The development of genetic models and imaging to begin to tease out circuits involved in liking a drug, withdrawal from a drug and drug craving .
4 ) What are the biggest barriers the field still needs to overcome?
Resolving the interaction of genetics and environment in creating phenotypes such as depression and anxiety leading to susceptibility to substance abuse.
7 ) How do you think the Health Care reform recently passed will affect addiction treatment?
It appears that there will be more attention paid to substance use disorders. With increased access to health services the treatment of substance disorders is likely to become more of a focus.
8 ) What is your view regarding the inclusion of behavior/process addictions in the field?
They should be included. Many of the process addictions have the same co-morbidities with substance use disorders and these are what need to be understood.
9 ) What is your view on the relative importance of Nature Vs. Nurture?
They are intertwined ? the interaction of nature with nurture directs our behaviors so neither should be considered more important than the other. Either nature or nurture can be a disaster for a life.
10 ) In your view, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that the public still holds about addiction?
That addiction is driven solely by the acute rewarding effects of the drug and not by subsequent adaptations induced by the drug including dysphoria or memories of drug action.
11 ) What is the most common question you get from others (public?) when it comes to addiction?
And there you go, a set of untouched, unedited answers about addiction and addiction research diretly from one of the masters. We hope you’ve enjoyed this and that you’ll look forward to more as All About Addiction continues a monthly exposure of what addiction research looks like from within.