ATLANTA (CBS46) -
Some Atlanta psychologists are using a unique approach in treating drug addiction. They’re literally modifying the brains of addicts.
"We are responding to what the research community has done for the last couple of decades, which is define addiction as a brain disease,” said Dr. Janet Cox, who founded Synapse, LLC, along with fellow psychologists Dr. Neal Cohen and Dr. Jeff Weber.
They call their method The Synapse System. It’s an outpatient program that focuses primarily on adolescents and young adults. The program uses intense therapy and new technology to make patients’ brains healthier.
“By a lot, I can tell a difference,” said an 18-year-old recovering addict whom we’ll call “Kevin.” He was 13 years old the first time he smoked marijuana, he said.
"And then around 16 or 17, I started doing Xanax and then cocaine," Kevin said.
He went to rehab, but quickly got right back into drugs, finally hitting rock bottom when a friend and fellow user died. During his second stint in rehab, Kevin decided it was time to kick his drug habit once and for all.
Kevin ended up at Synapse, which opened in 2015 on Piedmont Road in Buckhead. As part of his treatment, he’s hooked up with electrodes that measure his brain waves.
A computer program then becomes interactive, showing him how to adjust his brain waves. Cox said over time, the exercises repair neuropathways of Kevin’s brain that the drugs destroyed. New neuropathways are then created.
Cox said new computer measurements of Kevin’s brain waves are proof of his improvement. Kevin, who’s been drug-free for eight months, said he feels like a whole new person.
"My anxiety is gone. Depression is almost gone. I'm feeling more confident about myself. I've gotten a job since I've been here,” Kevin said. “It's just been amazing."
Click here for more information about The Synapse System.
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