Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A dangerous untruth...

I read first with amusement, then with a creeping sense of horror, the following article on the Amerian ABC News website this morning:

Doctor Claims Cure for Alcoholism in a Pill.
French Doctor Says He Cured Himself of Addiction by Taking a Muscle Relaxer

Dec. 9, 2008

A French cardiologist says he has discovered a cure for alcoholism and ended his own decades-long addiction to alcohol by dosing himself with a drug usually used for treating muscle spasms.

Dr. Olivier Ameisen, 55, a French physician who practiced for a time at New York's Weill-Cornell Medical Center claims in his new book "Le Derner Verre" ("The Last Glass") that since he started taking the drug baclofen, he has lost his desire to consume alcohol.

The book, a best-seller in France slated for release in the United States next year under the title "The End of My Addiction," has caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic, with some doctors cautiously optimistic about the drug's results in lab tests and others warning that no single drug can cure alcoholism's many root causes.

Despite a lucrative cardiology practice he began in 1994, Amesein writes that he felt like "an impostor waiting to be unmasked." The doctor writes that he drank large quantities whiskey and gin, though he hated the taste of alcohol.

"I detested the taste of alcohol, but I needed its effects to exist in society," he writes in the book.
Ameisen writes that he began using baclofen, a muscle relaxant typically used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, after reading a 2000 New York Times article about how the drug cured a cocaine addict of his addiction after he was prescribed the drug for a muscle problem.

"We've been interested in baclofen to treat alcoholism for years and continue to study its effects," said Dr. James Garbutt, a researcher at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Bowles said two different clinical tests of the drug to treat alcohol addiction in humans yielded different, inconclusive results, but that the drug was "not just snake oil."

"There is a fair amount of evidence that the drug does something. The basic science is sound, and it's been shown to work in animals," Garbutt said. "There is a good amount of good science that has shown good results, but there are still many, many questions. How effective is it really? What's the right dose? How safe is it? Will it work for everyone?" (NOTE: Bad science can yield whatever results you want it to...).

In one of the human trials, the drug was shown to be no more effective than a placebo. Another double-blind study, conducted last year by scientists at the Institute of Internal Medicine in Rome, found 70 percent of alcohol-dependent patients who were treated with baclofen achieved sobriety, compared with 30 percent of those on a placebo. (This is a misnomer. They did not achieve 'sobriety'... they simply temporarily lost the urge to consume alcohol. Why? The feeling they were looking for was now being provided by a muscle relaxant).

Once off the drug, however, patients remained sober for just two months on average. (Right... this is NOT sobriety!)
According to published reports about the book's contents, Ameisen spent nine months trying to shake his addiction, including entering a clinic and undergoing hypnosis and acupuncture.
In March 2002, he began taking 5 milligrams of baclofen.

"The first effects were a magical muscular relaxation and babylike sleep," he wrote, according to the British newspaper The Independent. (I've periodically taken muscle relaxants over perhaps 25 years for bouts of siatica, I can attest to the truth of these words. It's just like being drunk or stoned. Real comfy and peaceful-like).

After increasing his daily dose to 270 milligrams, Ameisen declared himself "cured." He continues to take 50 milligrams a day.

"Mine is the first case in which a course of medicine has completely suppressed alcohol addiction," Ameisen said, according to The Independent. "Now I can have a glass, and it has no effect. Above all, I no longer have that irrepressible need to drink." (This entire paragraph is one unmitigated crock of shit. It shows in all it's hideousness, the brand of "stinking thinking" that affects the practising alcoholic. No alcoholic will ever successfully drink socially. Ever!!)

Ameisen's claim that he can continue to drink socially, flies in the face of what scientists know about treating alcoholism, said Dr. Nicholas Pace, an addiction expert and a clinical professor of medicine at New York University. (Amen to that, brother...).

"I have studied alcoholism for the past 40 years, and there is no single magic bullet. This is a complex disease, and you can't just flip one switch," Pace said.

"The idea that an alcoholic can drink socially is simply a lot of bull," he said.

Pace said beyond just physical and psychological cravings, the very way an alcoholic's body, particularly his liver, responds is different from that of nonalcoholics. Furthermore, he said, the causes for the disease are complicated, and any effective treatment has to address them all.

"There are all kinds of factors that contribute to the disease of alcoholism. There is genetic predisposition, biology and social triggers," he said. "A pill can't change someone's genetics, his liver or the social settings [in which] he finds himself."


This is just one more drunk who has convinced himself that he can 'drink socially'. And all he has to do to reach this nirvanian state, is compound his addiction by taking a muscle relaxant. Can we say "dual addiction" here, kiddies...?? He is not the first alcoholic to imagine himself smarter than his disease. A state of mind which has led to the death of many, many an alcoholic before him.

I find it incredibly irresponsible that anyone would decide to have this kind of crap published, but then again how surprising is that? We are talking about a still-practising alcoholic here... First Susan Powter, now this jerk. I suppose there will always be someone who will think they've "found a cure" for alcoholism, rather than face the fact that you are one and no, there is no cure. I pity the idiots who embrace this new version of denial. There is however hope in knowing that we can either remain a practising alcoholic, or decide to live a semi-normal life instead. We do have a choice. Obviously Dr. Ameisen has opted for a longer bout with insanity... No, physician... in this case you cannot heal thyself.

I have found that as a rule, doctors know far less about the disease of alcoholism than those suffering from it. It is probably one of the most misdiagnosed conditions on earth.

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