As I have mentioned in several of previous articles, addiction to opiates is chronic disease of the brain and should be managed as such. It is usually the result of a combination of by genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors that ultimately lead to the development of this relapsing disease. Now that we agree that it is a disease shouldn’t we treat it as such?
Unfortunately, although many of the professionals working in the addiction field agree with this fact they still adopt of the mind set of our great grandfathers who looked down on those patients and considered addiction as an immoral sin and that addicts should repent. Some of the drug treatment programs are resistant to prescribing medications indicated for addiction treatment, rather, they place those patients in what looks like a lock down atmosphere and strip them of their ability to make decisions or communicate with certain people. While this approach may be needed in some cases to avoid external influences on patients as the facility implement their treatment protocols, it should not be generalized. Moreover, patients would be more receptive to the counseling efforts implemented in those facilities if they were comfortable and not suffering from the sever pains and aches associated with withdrawals from opiates.
What do you think will happen once those patients are released back into the society where all the triggers associated with addiction reside?
Also have you ever seen a diabetic who is not very compliant with their doctor’s recommendations placed in a diabetic rehab?
Treatment should be individualized and as recovery moves forward patients should gradually be empowered to take control of their life in order to eventually become productive members of the society.
In contrast, the outpatient programs using Buprenorphine, implement an approach which deals with addiction as a chronic relapsing disease that needs medical treatment in the form of medications in addition to psychosocial rehabilitation. While being on Buprenorphine, patients are relieved from the dreadful symptoms of withdrawals and cravings. This helps patients develop the interest and passion to participate in their rehabilitation process and makes the education efforts on our parts much easier.
The stigma imposed by our society on patient suffering from addiction has a profound negative impact on the recovery process. We hope that through education, research and solid evidence the medical community would be able to change the views and beliefs of the society and some of the professionals in order to provide the best treatment approach to our patients.