La escurridiza ciencia de la adicción

LINKÖPING, SUECIA – Todavía recuerdo una conversación que tuve hace más de 25 años cuando era un joven médico y recién comenzaba mi trabajo con pacientes con dificultades con las drogas y el alcohol. «¿Sabe qué, doc?», me dijo un paciente. «Emborracharse o consumir heroína se siente como el abrazo de mamá».

Desde entonces he escuchado innumerables variaciones sobre ese tema, que me han resultado conmovedoras y fascinantes. Pero mi capacitación me había enseñado a no hacer ciencia con anécdotas. Así que dejé lo que mis pacientes me decían en el compartimiento susceptible y sentimental de mi mente. Después, volví al laboratorio y a los cerebros de ratas en los que esperaba encontrar ayuda para resolver problemas de salud mental.

Pero si hubiese dado un paso atrás y pensado un poco, me hubiera resultado muy obvio que las personas con adicciones tienen fuertes incentivos para buscar cualquier cosa que los haga sentir abrazados. Es importante que los neurocientíficos comencemos a dar sentido al hecho de que no hay para ellos, en la mayor parte de los casos, muchos otros abrazos disponibles.

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