People across the globe are pleading for a change in the way that addiction treatment is administered. As far back as most can recall drug treatment has consisted of 12-step programs and ways to stop addiction that does not make use of medications. This is likely because addiction has not and still is not considered to be a disease by many. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is pushing for broad recognition of addiction as a disease and more medical approaches to therapy.
If Addiction Is a Disease, Does it Make it Easier to Treat?
The call is for addiction to be recognized as a brain disease and for doctors to be given specialty substance-abuse training programs in medical schools. In the meantime, the federal government has declared that they are creating more new resources to help guide patients, families and doctors toward science-based addiction treatment.
Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and President Obama's top advisor on drug policy, Gil Kerlikowske said during a speech at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage that addiction "is not a moral failing on the part of the individual. It's a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated."
2010 statistics from the government-funded National Survey on Drug Use and Health claim that around 21 million Americans have a substance-abuse disorder for which they need specialty treatment and there are more people dying from drug overdoses than there are people dying in car accidents.
The news has been pretty bleak about those who are addicted and seek treatment. According to a 500-plus-page report released by Columbia University in June, nine out of ten people that are addicted will not receive any kind of treatment. The reason is that the medical establishment is disconnected from drug addicts and recovery.
Trying to Figure Out Better Drug Treatments for Easier Recoveries
This trend continues even after science has revealed that addiction is a bone fide medical problem involving intense brain changes. Dr. Nora Volkow, chief doctor at the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that addiction is a chronic disorder that will require multiple rounds of therapy to reduce the risk of relapse and to lengthen drug-free intervals.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is putting considerable effort into developing vaccines to fight addiction to nicotine, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, Volkow said. These efforts would be designed to cravings for drugs and alcohol to fade over time significantly.