Addiction Stopping Technology


Aaron was the only smoker among his friends and at work. That meant he smoked alone, outside, in thick heat, in the rain, in the cold, or whatever mother nature sent his way. Always alone with his thoughts, thinking how much he hated having to smoke alone. He hated smoking and his addiction to it, and how none of his friends or coworkers had to deal with it.

Sometimes he thought back to his first smoke, when he was 13. Stole it out of a pack his brother had hidden from their parents. Now 31, he had basically been smoking for 18 years. Several attempts to quit had failed, and Aaron was about to hit a point where he would give up trying altogether.

Quietly, he wished he could go back in time, to that first cigarette, and stop himself from developing the horrendous habit.

Actually, there’s technology to do that.

Not go back in time. A time machine would be awesome, but no, it hasn’t been developed yet.

Recent scientific research has shown that bad habits can be nipped in the bud before they ever begin. The smart folks at MIT recently discovered that habits are formed when two portions of the brain are activated, the infralimbic cortex and the striatum. They blocked activity in the infralimbic cortex using “optogenics,” or lights, basically.

In this case the research team running mazes to reach a reward. The little critters couldn’t run the maze fast enough, but by “turning off” the infralimbic cortex, the rats were still able to master the maze, but had no interest in the reward (which we assume was some kind of awesome cheese.)

Obviously, research such as this takes some time before it’s widely accepted, but now there appears to be a true scientifically-based way to keep bad habits from forming. Does this mean you can turn on certain lights in your bathroom and give heroine a test drive? Probably not, so please don’t even consider it.

It does portend a greater understanding of addiction and how people like Aaron can break free, or even halt addiction before it forms.

Until the MIT technique comes to fruition, check out our other posts on breaking addictions. If you have any great tips or experiences, we’d love to hear them in the comments!

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