His practice had fallen off. He was losing everything in his life. Jad Abumrad: At one point he describes this terrifying moment of waking up in the back of a taxi, blood all over himself.
Doesn't know whose blood it is, doesn't know where he's going. Amy O'Leary: He was totally desperate. Killing himself was the next option. Then at one point he says that he had read this tiny nugget-. Jad Abumrad: Apparently he'd stumbled across this short piece about a guy who'd been addicted to cocaine, taken some muscle relaxants-. Amy O'Leary: He saw that and he basically just felt like, well I might as well try this. I'm just going to experiment on myself. Amy O'Leary: Then at one point he says the switch flipped. Once the switch hit he just became absolutely indifferent to alcohol.
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Robert Krulwich: Apparently this obsessive need for alcohol that had burdened him his entire life just went away. I found an email address like you do as a reporter. I Googled every combination of his name until I found some little dot Fr email address, and emailed him.
He wrote back right away. Amy O'Leary: I'm all ready. We have it planned in advance. I confirm it with him. I'm all set up at my desk in New York, and he picked up and I was like Dr. Amesin how are you? It's so good to speak with you. He immediately was like, "Amy, Amy I am so sorry I am rescuing my girlfriend. We are in the Alps. I'm carrying her down a mountain side. Can I call you back? Robert Krulwich: Did you hear wind in the background?
The sound of the birds and-. Amy O'Leary: He did seem like he was exerting himself to some extent. You know, we scheduled a second appointment, and I recorded the phone call.
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Amisin: It's like miracles happen you know. Last time we spoke I was rescuing my girlfriend.
My God, it was like a nightmare. We were in Switzerland, at 10, feet. Amisin: When Moses opened the Red Sea people say it was a miracle. Well though there is some science, like nature said, "Become who you are. I might have been wrong in the were wrong but Einstein is right. Rubinstein told me he'd never heard of candidates like me.
He's heard Rachmaninoff or Harroway too. If comes the Nobel you never know. People tell me it made have made the discovery of the century. I mean there's no-. Amy O'Leary: He literally went on for 20 minutes before I got in with a little question. Amisin: Oh really, yeah it's really like a thriller. It's humorous and it's fun. I mean-. Amisin: Sometimes reading I can't believe I Sometimes I want to say I say that, and that personally a lot has happened, but I mean if you look at just the back-.
Amy O'Leary: Then literally it was 20 minutes of how important our shared mission was to like save the world. Amy O'Leary: Red flags going off left and right, and I sort of started to down shift my thought of doing a story. Right about this time my reporting group got disbanded due to an internal reorganization. I moved to a different desk, and it was just like pshh okay. Maybe some day Radio Lab will be interested in the story.
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Jad Abumrad: Because we'll eat anything. No, in all fairness Dr. Amisin, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, may have been in the middle of a manic episode. Which doesn't necessarily negate the story he was telling. Amy O'Leary: As a journalist, and as someone who'd been personally affected by alcoholism I was incredibly torn.
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As a journalist, you have to be skeptical of everything. At the same time, wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where you could deal with this problem which tears apart so many lives, kills so many people, creates all kinds of pain and agony with a medication. That just seems great. Jad Abumrad: The question for me is We often see addiction as this thing that you've got to morally conquer. Like a spiritual calamity that you've got to somehow reorganize your entire being in order to get through, but what if it's not that way.
What if it's simply a switch in your brain that got stuck in the on position, and you can use a pill to just switch it right off. Jad Abumrad: Now, we were super skeptical of this idea, but we also couldn't stop thinking about it. Jad Abumrad: Dr. Anna Rose Childress is an addiction researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and Amy pointed us to her because it was her work that actually inspired Dr.
Anna Rose Childress: I don't know if you mentioned throbbing, pulsing desire states, but somehow that comes to mind. For decades, she's been studying that craving state in addiction. She's interviewed people about it. Anna Rose Childress: What patients described to me is that they would sometimes describe a sort of a wave of sensation.
Speaker Some enormous wave just pulsates throughout your whole body.
Anna Rose Childress: Would go from their toes up to their head, and back down again. Jad Abumrad: Okay. One day in she's at a conference. She bumps into a guy who tells her he has managed to get some rats addicted to cocaine, give them Baclofen, and they totally lost interest in the coke.
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Anna Rose Childress: They were disinterested for several hours. I saw this and I thought, wow. Jad Abumrad: She began to give Baclofen to people who were addicted to crack. Small doses, and initially-. Jad Abumrad: Results weren't great.