“Methadone, the first pharmacological treatment for heroin addiction, was pioneered 50 years ago by Rockefeller University’s Mary Jeanne Kreek and her colleagues. Since then the drug, which is widely used in treatment programs across the globe, has saved countless lives and allowed millions of heroin users to transition into normal lives.
Yet in the United States, where medical treatment of addiction is controversial, the drug’s use has remained limited even as deaths due to heroin-related overdoses have surged to expose a towering public health problem. Kreek’s career, spanning more than six decades, has not only led to medical treatments for various diseases of addiction, but has taught us much about the molecular and genetic underpinnings of drug cravings. In addition, she has been championing the implementation of drug treatment programs worldwide.
“Addictions are diseases, they are diseases of the brain,” says Kreek. “They are not criminal behaviors, and they are not weaknesses. They however do respond to treatments—and it’s unfortunate that we have tools available to treat opiate addiction, but we’re not using them.”
Source: Rockefeller.edu – December 9, 2016