« Controlling deer population | Main | Increasing the middle class »

December 27, 2008

Drug addiction is a disease

It is finally time that the president selects a “drug czar” who is actually familiar with the disease of addiction and has a background in treatment of this disease as well as pharmacology. For too long we have left these crucial decisions to the uninformed and those who do not have the addicts’ best interest at heart.

Addiction, including alcohol, is a disease and should be approached as a medical problem, not a legal one. I can’t even imagine how much money we have wasted by incarcerating users and small-time dealers.

We must face reality. Thirty-day treatment programs are a joke. People who have been using for 19 years or more are not going to heal in the traditional 30-day model, only to be sent back to their drug-infested environments.

We need long-term treatment, job training, education and relocation. In the meantime, we must quit treating addiction as a legal problem and approach it as a medical issue. Hopefully President Obama will have the insight to realize that this vicious cycle will end only when we take the appropriate measures to finally do the right thing.

Steven Addison
Kansas City

Comments

Steven Addison

Tina,
I couldn't agree with you more. So called treatment centers have begun to vanish and in their place we now have dul diagnosis facilies. Mental health/Addiction are serious medical issues. America's inability to take responsibilty for the health care of millions of Americans who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses and addiction are partly to blame for the recent murders in Arizona, a state that allows people to carry weapons openly. "The cracks in the mental health care system in America are not fissures; they are canyons".
Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News psychiatrist
While I hate to quote anyone from Fox Noise, especially a psychiatrist who believes that Universl health Care will not help the 40 million Americans suffering from some form of mental illness, most of whom are the victims of violence and not those that commit violence. Let them carry guns but at least place as much enthusiasm on health care as we do on the so called right to bare arms. Shame on you America.

Account Deleted

I agree with you, and drug addicts need a treatment and rehabilitation rather than imprisonment.

teen addiction treatment
http://www.v3tucson.com

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

I would agree with you to some extent, however, as someone who has overcome additiction, I know form experience that programs do not fix the root problems with addiction alone. They have limited affect and in fact the recidivism rate is very high amongst this group. People must make the choice to change their behavior in addition to the chemical dependency. I have many friends that are dead from addiction, some are in prison due to their choices. They made choices and they knew there were consequences for those choices. I agree that people need to have resources and given at least one opportunity to make the changes necessary to lead productive lives. Simply handing money out to these individuals will not correct the problem, however.

TinaMcG

NMMNG, addicts who do meth or crack have the same emotional and mental issues as addicts who drink alcohol, take Oxycontin, or do coke with a silver spoon. Some would argue tobacco users even have the same issues.

I don't believe these are people whose problem is making bad choices -- not when they are incapable of making good choices with the emotional and mental tools at hand. That's where treatment comes in. Good addiction treatment is so underrated in our society. Rehabilitating the brain is possible, and I've seen miracles happen, but gaining access to good therapy is difficult and prohibitively expensive for most addicts.

NoMoreMrNiceGuy

And what it the right thing to do? FInance their habit? Feel sorry for the addicts? Afford them more rights and priviledge than those that make better choices? I agree with TinaG regarding mental health, under Medicaid for example, a person must be fit a certain diagnoses to receive the treatment or heaalthcare they require, we are talking about organic mental health issue not smoking crack or met addiction. People with forms of schizophrenia, dementia, and manic depression. They often limit the amount in dollars and amount in time parameters on these types of disorders.
You see our government spends tons of money on uneeded wars, advancing gay rights, bailing out Fannie Mae and other enterprise, building debtors prisons, yet they refuse to allocate enough resource for people with mental health conditions that are organic or self induced. Drug addiction is a simple vice to fix, you give people two choices, death or being productive.

Stifled Freedom

There is little difference between an addiction to prescription drugs and illicit drugs....other than corporate interests and tax revenue. You know the way to keep any vice legal. Keep the govt addicted to the special tax revenue and all the alleged negative effects will be willfully ignored.

TinaMcG

I agree with you, Steven, but I'd take it a step further and say America needs to place much more emphasis on mental health in general. When a loved one entered alcohol rehab in 1993, his company-provided health insurance capped out at $3000 for mental health treatment. That $3000 was gone very quickly, and fortunately, he was able to deplete his savings to pay the rest and he worked his tail off to stay clean and sober since that time. His was a real Cinderella story that is not at all typical of addicts seeking treatment.

Imagine my surprise when I recently read that insurance companies will soon be required to make no distinction between physical and mental health coverage! This new law was in the recent bailout bill, of all places. But those needing this extra coverage will have to wait until Jan. 1, 2010 when it goes into effect.

Here is a good article on the 'Mental Health Parity' law:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/06/washington/06mental.html?hp

 
About KansasCity.com | About the Real Cities Network | Terms of Use & Privacy Statement | About Knight Ridder | Copyright