Today’s status quo is not acceptable. We live in the most advanced civilization in history and yet we haven’t figured out how to solve our greatest public health challenge; addiction. 23 Million Americans suffer from addiction and only about 10% get the help they need any given year and those who do are oftentimes provided with time-constrained episodes of acute care. Something has got to change.
Learn more about our work to help addiction sufferers get well and stay well from this disease.
What are our natural instincts when a family member acquires a potentially fatal chronic disease? Love? Fear? Compassion? Understanding? Sadness? Empathy?
We may even feel like we are walking in the shoes of the afflicted member as they attempt to learn new tools to manage their chronic condition.
The greatest dysfunction relating to addiction may be the addiction field.
Hardly a week goes by during which we aren't bombarded with the sad news of the death of yet another celebrity who "struggled with addiction". Oftentimes, the treatment careers of these poor souls have been long chronicled in the accompanying media frenzy. All too often, this scrutiny reveals celebrities receiving multiple episodes of treatment, behind some pretty imposing looking gates at ultra-exclusive and ultra-expensive facilities in the hills of Malibu, CA, or the like.
Imagine a nation that understands and treats addiction just like any other chronic disease. We know just as much about it as we know about any other health issue. We are just as likely to solicit the advice of our family doctor as we are for any other type of issue about which we might be open to suggestion. Stigmatized labels like, “alcoholic”, “drug addict” and “substance abuser” are relics of the past. We have come to know that addiction is an equal opportunity disease, affecting roughly 10% of any adult population, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, education, religion and socio-economics.
Historically, employers have gotten a bad rap for not being sympathetic to those who suffer from addiction. The prevailing perception is that employers have focused on identifying those who suffer and weeding them out rather than getting them the help they need. Not surprisingly then, employers have not been viewed as potential partners in the resolution of alcohol and drug problems.
Many of us who have survived addiction owe our lives to others; in particular to the fellowship of peer-based support groups. One of the sacred traditions of a leading such group is “anonymity”. While this tradition has no doubt served its purpose well, it becomes problematic if its purpose is broadened beyond its intended scope.