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Medications have their kinks
Posted April 25, 2008

Andres Rivera
Editorial Director

Two years ago people suffering from obesity and addiction saw a new avenue in their fight as scientists offered anti-addiction drugs that would help.

The “super pills” were offered to help those suffering from such ailments as excessive eating, addiction to tobacco, cocaine and alcohol.

In a recent report by CNN, research shows that the “super pills” that were geared at curing addictions are now increasing the chances of depression in some.

The anti-addiction pills, Rimonabant and Taranabant, were meant to target and restrict the pleasure sensor in the brain. Without the abundance of working pleasure sensors, the person taking the pill would not have the same sense of satisfaction toward the vice, whether it was alcohol, smoking or eating.

This was a novel idea, had it not been for the revelation that the restriction of pleasure sensors would cause the patients to lose their sense of satisfaction with other activities as well, especially when the patients took the pills for weight loss purposes.

Imagine not being able to feel satisfaction or happiness as much because the pills are keeping your brain from embracing those feelings. The result would be a form of depression.

Now doctors are being careful on whether to offer these type of pills to their patients.

The manufacturers insist they are safe, even after one recent study found 43 percent of the patients developed psychiatric problems as a result of taking the medication as apposed to the control group that had 28 percent.

While people seem to be up in arms about this revelation, can we really take this as a surprise?

This is just part of the scientific process. While it pains people to believe this is true, there is always trial and error when new treatments are developed.

It takes researchers years to get the medications to do what they are supposed to do and to limit the dangerous side-effects.

Given time, a balance between the negative side-effects and the positive outcome of the drug becomes apparent. There will always be side-effects and there will always be a few cases, sad to say, when patients will be severely hurt by the medications, up to the point of death.

There already have been cases of depression linked to these particular medications. So these so-called “super pills” may be too much for the human body to handle.

Keeping in mind the patient's state -of-mind when trying to change his or her habits, it becomes apparent that they may already be somewhat depressed about their situation.

So if the scientists say the anti-addiction drugs shouldn’t be taken by those with a history of depression, then no one will be able to take the medication.

Since addiction often times is followed by depression, and with the chances of someone taking this medication becoming depressed is reasonable, the medication seems to be not the way to go (unless you want to have a higher chance of being depressed of course).

It may be cynical but it comes down to one question: Would you rather be depressed and addicted, or free of addiction and depressed?

Andres Rivera, a senior journalism major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at arivera3@ulv.edu.