This is from my local newspaper .
Vivek Kumar is an assistant professor at the Jackson Laboratory where he uses mouse genetics to study behavior and behavioral abnormalities, including addiction, ADHD and depression. Kumar wrote an informative OpEd recently on how we should use science to understand addiction. He is clear about one thing: Addiction is a chronic illness. He compares addiction with two other chronic illnesses: diabetes and hypertension.
Roughly 40 percent to 60 percent of addicts will stay clean 12 months after entering treatment. Similarly, 30 percent to 70 percent of diabetes and hypertension patients will experience reoccurrence of symptoms within a year of treatment onset.
However, the key difference is how this is perceived. In the case of diabetes and hypertension, the fact that treatment suppressed symptoms is considered a success, even if the symptoms reoccur. But with addiction, the reoccurrence of symptoms is seen as a sign that the treatment has failed.
Finally, there is a massive discrepancy in access to treatment. Imagine if insulin treatment for diabetics were abruptly stopped because of a state mandate, if diabetics had to drive two hours to receive a shot of insulin, or if their treatment facility suddenly shut down. This is exactly what addicts are experiencing in Maine. Furthermore, many insurance companies cover acute detox and stabilization but provide limited or no long-term treatment options for this chronic condition.
Addiction is a chronic illness, with genetic, environmental and social aspects that are similar in scope to illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension. Why should one be treated as a social and moral failure while the other is a medical issue? As the neurobiology and medical communities make very clear, addiction is a chronic disease, and its treatment needs to mirror that of other chronic diseases.
what do you think? Nancy
“Finally, there is a massive discrepancy in access to treatment. Imagine if insulin treatment for diabetics were abruptly stopped because of a state mandate, if diabetics had to drive two hours to receive a shot of insulin, or if their treatment facility suddenly shut down. This is exactly what addicts are experiencing in Maine.”
What a complete crock of crap! An insulin-dependent diabetic would drive two hours (or more) to receive that shot of insulin, because they would die without it within a relatively brief period of time. Drug addicts, however, would experience some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms if they didn’t receive their Methadone or Suboxone, however they would notdie without this treatment.
Additionally, no one chooses to become diabetic. Drug addicts, however, made a choice initially to abuse drugs. Comparing drug addicts to diabetics is ludicrous at best and downright insulting at worst!
Whoa. This is perhaps one of the most idiotic analogies in the annals of medicine, is it not?
I see what he is trying to say in that I do believe addiction is a disease. But it is a flawed and clumsy method of making his point. And @rgcainmd makes an excellent point about what we will do if we need insulin…
@twinchick—I’m not sure if you are in the mood, but it could be kind of fun to write to this person and make a few points—only if you would enjoy the process. He may be wedded to this notion and completely not interested in divorcing himself from it…Blessings…
I also don’t understand this statement. How is a treatment considered a success if diabetes or hypertension symptoms reoccur (i.e., blood sugar or blood pressure is still high and causing symptoms)? That means a treatment has failed, no?
I know I’m painting a huge bullseye on my face by making the following comments, but here goes:
I don’t buy into the “disease model” of drug addition. While drug addicts may not have intended to become dependent on drugs when they began abusing them, they most certainly had a choice in the matter. Unfortunately, they made a bad choice, and continued making this same bad choice when they continued abusing drugs, to the point where they became physically and psychologically dependent on their drug(s) of choice. I find it hard to believe that anyone who chooses to abuse drugs is unaware of the risk of becoming addicted.
PWD, however, have absolutely no choice whatsoever in the matter of being diabetic. PWD did not choose to develop this disease and could have done nothing to prevent it. Clearly not the case with drug abusers.
I don’t view my comments as “blaming the victims”, unless one considers drug abusers to be victims of their own poor choices.
I was so furious when I saw this . I do believe I have diabetes for 2 reasons. Genetics,multiple family members before me had it, and I was a micro preemie which gives you a higher risk of diabetes. I have had this for 23 years,in pretty good control. I I’ll be writing a letter. I do know drug addiction up close as my nephew is one. Do they need treatment,yes. Do we all need access to medication,yes. It is complicated,but do not compare me to a drug addict. That is my opinion. Thank you everyone.
As Acidrock says all Type 1s are hard core insulin addicts. We’ll even shoot up in a crowded restaurant if we feel we need a fix.
It is unbecoming for PWD who strongly object to comments which imply that people with T2 are wholly responsible for their disease and poor outcomes to take a similar attitude towards those with addiction problems. There is a huge increase in addiction in this country because doctors have been over prescribing opiates without closely following their patients. Is it really just a choice that someone who was injured falls into addiction because of sub-optimal medical care and a predisposition (genetic or otherwise) to addiction?