HOW ADDICTION MANAGEMENT WAS DEVELOPED
The story starts in the 1970s, when Dr Richard Mackarness was working as a consultant at Basingstoke District General Hospital. He brought pioneering research from the US, where he had trained, in the field of autoimmune disease. It was as a result of this research that the technique for neutralising allergic reactions was developed.
The next stage for Dr Mac was when he theorised that if we can neutralise an allergic reaction we can also neutralise an addictive one. The science of this is explained below.
He set up a clinic in Basingstoke for smokers using the technique, with great success. However, the NHS was just getting interested in smoking cessation at the time, because the pharmaceutical industry was starting to develop the first nicotine replacement products. The Department of Health therefore had a choice, between investing heavily in a clinical procedure, and just buying a ready-made product from the drug companies.
Because they made the only financial decision they could, Dr Mac retired to Australia. There, an amazing thing happened. The State of Victoria Health Commission actually asked him to come out of retirement to do for them what the NHS would not fund for the British public. But there was a snag. They weren’t interested in smoking at that time; they wanted his treatment for alcohol and heroin. Dr Mac, of course, obliged, and his clinic in Melbourne ran successfully for some years before he died.
Which leaves one question. Why, if Addiction Management was so successful, didn’t it simply take off? Well, the answer lies in how medicine is now provided to the public worldwide. Addiction Management isn’t patentable, for legal and technical reasons we won’t go into here. A therapy that can’t be patented has zero value to pharmaceutical companies. And governments, particularly here in the UK, provide to the public what drug companies sell.
Fast forward to the 1990s, and National Stop Smoking Centres was set up to provide the treatment here in the UK for smoking cessation. It took off very quickly, and attracted a lot of attention in the media. This was the time when employers were keen to provide help to staff to stop smoking, and we provided AM in the workplace throughout the country
(line here with list of workplace clients)
Then, the pharmaceutical companies got aggressive, and without going into a lot of detail it was made difficult for us to further develop our treatment. Without the large-scale financial backing we needed, we were forced to accept that we couldn’t compete with the multinational drug industry.
Which brings us to where we are today. The drug companies have been so busy selling into the smoking cessation market, they have missed a really important point. Smokers are only ever told that they smoke or they don’t, and they have come to believe this myth. And it just isn’t true. So now we’re doing something really clever, because we’re addressing the very large number of smokers who have failed to stop smoking because of this foolish all or nothing approach.
We have set a target, and it goes like this. The NHS, in conjunction with the drug industry, has a target to get a given number of smokers to stop, each year. This target is never reached, because the products they offer just aren’t good enough. But let’s look at the target anyway, and see if there is another way of achieving. it. Le’s say, for the sake of argument, that there is a target to get 10% of smokers to stop. It could be 20%, or 50%. It doesn’t really matter. But let’s stick with 10%.
Let’s assume, then, that over any given period, let’s say a year, 10% of this target is achieved. This means 1% of smokers stop.
Now, let’s look at this our way. To achieve a 10% reduction in smoking-related disease, we could have a target of a 10% reduction in the number of smokers. Or, and this is where it gets really interesting, we could set a target of reducing the amount people smoke, with exactly the same health benefits to the nation. We move the target from the number of people smoking to the number of cigarettes smoked. And the point here is that it is MUCH easier to reduce the number of cigarettes people smoke than the number of people smoking. It is really very easy indeed.
With, of course, Addiction Management. Now, we’re not telling anyone they have to ‘give up’ smoking, were just saying, to those who are interested, that they can achieve a huge benefit to their health and finances, without having to stop smoking.
And yes, we have a target. It’s not to stop people smoking, it’s to drastically cut the number of cigarettes we as a nation smoke. With Addiction Management, that’s easy. For this reason, we no longer provide this specialist treatment for smoking cessation, we only provide it to those smokers who would not consider stopping, but do want to reduce the size of their problem. If you are interested, our target is to help 5% of smokers in the UK to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke by just 50%. In reality we could achieve a 90% reduction for most people, but we like the sound of this target. And although the primary reason is the nation’s health, we think in terms of the financial benefit, and here’s why. 5% of smokers is 700,000 people, and a 50% reduction in their consumption is say 8 cigarettes a day. The saving per person will be around £1500 a year. Times 700,000 means a saving, nationally, of just over a billion pounds a year. That’s £1 billion not being burned pointlessly. A billion pounds put back into the productive economy, for people to spend on something better than tobacco, which of course means anything at all.
So important do we believe this campaign to be, that we’ve given it a name. A rather catchy one, we think.
The People’s Billion.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND ADDICTION MANAGEMENT
The breakthrough Dr Mac made was in understanding how addiction is created and maintained by the immune system. Addiction is in fact immune system dysfunction. His speciality was allergy, and this was why he discovered the connection between an allergic reaction and an addictive one.
Think about the first time you ever smoked a cigarette. It tasted horrible, and probably made you dizzy and nauseous. This was all to be expected; tobacco tastes bad because it’s poisonous. The key to understanding addiction is not this part but what happens next, which is that, as you well know, tobacco stops tasting poisonous. (Of course, it doesn’t stop BEING poisonous.) The mechanism by which you lose the ability to tell it’s poisonous is called adaptation. Your body learns the chemical structure of tobacco, and so each time you smoke your immune system recognises it. That’s what adaptation means.
(content still in preparation)