My name is John Grant, I am an associate professor of psychiatry
at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
If you talk to people who really get addicted to shoplifting, they describe this
as a very intense addition, that they wish they could stop,
and they know it's ruining their lives, but they simply can't stop doing it.
What we were able to do in this study was by treating people with this drug
which is almost 30 years old now, after six weeks of treatment,
the people that got the real medication were shoplifting less, some not at all.
They were having less desires to shoplift, they felt more in control of their lives again.
What we think is going on when people steal, or shoplift, they get a rush.
It sort of turns on the reward part of the brain, and it's a very specific part
of the brain, a place called the ventral tagmental area and it connects
to another part called the nucleus accumbens,
so that any time that people find something pleasurable certain chemicals are given off
in this part of the brain and it keeps telling us - we want to do it again.
The theory is that in people who have addictions that this reward circuitry is sort of ramped up,
and it's sort of the gas pedal of our drive and our behavior.
And then what you also rely on are parts of the brain here in the front part of the brain,
which would be kind of the brakes system, and this kind of tells you "don't do it."
What appears to happen in addiction for a lot of people, the gas pedal is just too strong,
it's floored, so that their sense of reward is much more intense,
or their euphoria is much greater than say people who don't become addicted.
So what we're really targeting with this medication is that rush,
that high that people get when they shoplift.
We are actually able to decrease their desires to steal
because when they did steal they didn't get a high, they didn't get a rush any longer,
and if they're not getting that reinforcement, they quit doing it.