Why an Addiction Doctor Opened a Genetics Lab

Why an Addiction Doctor Opened a Genetics Lab

A little over three years ago, I sold a successful outpatient treatment center that I helped found. The center made great strides, helped a lot of people, and more importantly, created a new way to treat addiction as a biological illness of the brain. So why did I sell it? Because I thought the buyer was going to expand it to a national chain and create a widely available, affordable, fast way to treat addiction in the outpatient arena. That, unfortunately, is not what happened.

It quickly became apparent that my ideas weren’t welcomed there at all, and so I left. But I was stuck. I had a three year non-compete clause in the buyout. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t treat addiction, and I couldn’t work in a lab with the genetics I’d been using to treat addiction. So I sat still for three years. Well, not exactly still.

I made a YouTube series about my goal of ending addiction as a problem in American life. I did a lot of writing here on Medium. I did a lot of reading. I found improvements I could have used in the genetics I’d been using for addiction treatment. I met people; I talked with them. I didn’t give up.

After three years though, I had to figure out what to do. Should I open a new treatment center? I could. I knew good people who wanted to make a difference. But I had a problem. There was no genetics lab but the one I’d previously owned that would do the tests I needed. I realized that I didn’t know how to treat addiction any longer without genetics. And the field hadn’t moved to supply the information I needed.

Another thing I’d done in those three years was talk to a lot of colleagues in Addiction Medicine. I am on an email list with hundreds of them. I listened to the questions they asked of each other and occasionally gave my opinion. I noticed that most of their questions would never be asked in my understanding of addiction. So many of my colleagues are convinced that addiction is a cortical choice, and that recovery is too. Why that is the case is a story for another day. The upshot is that I realized there was no where to go for the kind of support I needed to do good, fast, inexpensive addiction treatment. I also realized that the system hadn’t improved and that there was little incentive for it to improve.

So here I was with no lab, a lot of info, a realization that the doctors who could learn this had little reason to, and the people who were suffering had a hard time getting the information they needed. They needed Genetic Education. They needed GenEd. So a lab was born that is more than a lab; GenEd is an education company with a lab attached. And because I have a great interest in people with addiction and doctors who treat addiction getting the information they need, we start with the Addiction Education panel. But starting a lab got me to open my eyes a bit. It’s not just the addiction treatment field that has a problem.

My experience taught me that our healthcare system had changed a great deal since I went to med school. The system is much more focused on gross diagnoses now and less on individual’s troubles. I didn’t get care that was individualized for me unless I demanded it, and I realized that few knew what they could ask for. There’s a lot of education on how the human body works, but little on how my body works, or yours.

So after Addiction Education, GenEd will offer information on nutrition, atrial fibrillation, gout, and many other areas where people who are wondering could benefit from education about how their body works. We all need to know who we are, what our blueprint is. We all have a lot to learn.