WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Hanley Center is trying to revolutionize treatment for addiction.
By scanning the brain they hope to build a road map to recovery.
The drug and alcohol specialists at Hanley are betting the scans, which show blood flow, can fight addiction.
Hanley experts showed off two brain scans to explain the process. One was a picture of a normal brain. The other was a scan from an addict. In that picture the brain scan looked a lot like Swiss cheese.
"It helps them (patients) understand that they are dealing with a disease," said Barbara Krantz, Hanley's CEO and Medical Director of Research.
Hanley is teaming up with renowned brain imaging expert Dr. Daniel Amen to put the pictures to use.
"He has over 60 thousand scans and a portion of those are normal, so now when we scan our patients, they will have a physical representation of what their brain looks like," said Krantz.
Hanley says it is the first treatment center on the East Coast to use what's known as a SPECT scan. SPECT stands for single photon emission computed tomography.
Hanley expects that by comparing brain scans of addicts with normal brain scans, and analyzing the blood flow, they will be able to recommend the right treatments as well as figure out what does and doesn't work.
Dr. Krantz saw the results firsthand last year when the center scanned patients who had relapsed more than 5 times.
"That helped us understand their cravings so we were able to intervene earlier," said Krantz.
Krantz went on to say, "If we can ask more specific questions and therefore target treatment better, then our outcome should be better."
It will be part of an ongoing research project, where they hope to find biomarkers that predict which patients are most likely to relapse.
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