IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING DRUG ADDICTION
The treatment of alcohol abusers requires medical professionals to determine the existence of addiction by using addiction assessment techniques.7 The assessment techniques answer questions such as whether an addiction exists, what is the extent of the addiction, and whether cooccurring conditions (mental disorders) exist. Once such information about a patient is clear, then the medical professionals try to take the best approach toward treating an individual’s addiction issue. Initially, in the addiction assessment, the medical professionals involved the family members of the patient to seek drug and alcohol treatment. The addiction assessment enables medical professionals to understand the patient’s situation and determine the most appropriate level of care and treatment.
In the addiction assessment process, many trained professionals are involved such as medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists. The involvement of multiple professionals helps to ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate treatment. The assessment process is simple and straightforward. The clinicians use a standard screening tool (a questionnaire), which the patient needs to fill out by providing information regarding current alcohol use, health history, previous treatment history, symptoms, behavior, and the worst effects of the addiction on his/ her life. The clinicians may ask for a face-to-face interview to understand the situation more clearly, while all the provided information is strictly confidential and used only for treatment purposes. There are standard screening questionnaire tools available such as the Alcohol Use Disorders
Identification Test (AUDIT), National Institute on Drug Use Screening Tool (NIDA), and CAGE questionnaire.8-10 The CAGE contains four questions: (1) Have you ever felt you should CUT down on your drinking?; (2) Have others ANNOYED you by criticizing your drinking?; (3) Have you ever felt GUILTY about your drinking?; and (4) Have you ever felt the need to drink at EYE opening (in the morning)? The score of CAGE is between 0 and 1. Thus, two “yes” responses in the above questions will indicate the presence of addiction.11 The AUDIT was developed for screening of alcohol abusers by the WHO in 1982. The AUDIT is a standard questionnaire that includes questions about the quantity and frequency of the alcohol use, dependence symptoms, and alcohol-related problems. It identifies patients who have problems with alcohol and who are dependent or not dependent.12
EEG- and event-related potential (ERP)-based screening tools are reported in literature. The EEG low-voltage alpha was associated with alcohol use disorders. It was observed that alcoholics were more likely to show low-voltage alpha than nonalcoholics.13 Further, another study has shown that EEG can detect among alcohol patients to determine whether they relapsed or abstained from alcohol within 3 months after treatment.13 The results suggested that the neural activity of those patients who relapsed was more desynchronized over the frontal regions, indicating functional disturbance in the prefrontal cortex. In addition, a 2016 study reported significant differences among alcohol abusers, alcoholics, and control subjects using EEG features with machine-learning techniques.14 These studies indicated that the EEG technique has the potential to be used as a screening tool for the assessment of alcohol-addicted patients. The EEG enables the assessors to understand the neuronal behaviors of the patients and seek the most appropriate treatment.