M10 — March 2013 — Addiction Takes Center Stage
Intro: Millions of Americans, up to 10% of the population, have had a problem with alcohol addiction. While each person's struggle may be played out in private, Mayo Clinic recently raised the curtain on addiction at a public theater. The hope is to help more people understand this all too common human condition. Here's Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network.
It's a Pulitzer Prize winning examination of a family's addictions. Who knew Eugene O'Neill's play, Long Day's Journey into Night, would one day become a teaching opportunity for one of the world's most respected medical facilities?
"What we wanted to do was take the power of drama and mix that with cutting edge scientific information."
Mayo Clinic's School of Continuous Professional Development staged a daylong series of seminars and panel discussions at a place famous for putting raw human emotions onstage, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.
"Personal stories are amazing ways to really appreciate struggle and the road to recovery."
Mayo Psychiatrist Mark Frye said treating addiction can be particularly complex when mental health is a factor. Women with Bipolar disorder, for example, are at 7-times higher risk for alcoholism.
"A lot of neuroscience research is moving forward to try to understand that risk. Clinicians are recognizing it's really important to screen for that.
"Dealing with feelings and emotions. We weren't allowed to have them when I was a kid, except on camera."
Actress Mellissa Gilbert revealed a family history of alcoholism and her own struggles with drug abuse and alcohol 2 — years ago in her memoir. Being in the spotlight made appearances at recovery programs an act of courage.
"As I was walking in someone came running up and said, 'Oh my god, I loved you on Little House on the Prairie! oh sorry. How do you do anonymous?' and I said I don't."
Yet, she says an important part of staying sober for anyone means not hiding the truth.
"I have a disease. I have an addiction. And it's treatable."
"And that we recognize that there is hope. 16:00 That people can get better. That things are not hopeless in terms of treatment."
For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Dennis Douda.
The conference attracted medical professionals, social service agencies, patients and their concerned loved ones. A similar event last year at the Guthrie Theater focused on the challenges of Depression.
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