Last week I shared my chief wish for the future of addiction treatment, which was that progress would continue in five key areas: an explosion of research, development of new and effective treatment approaches, growth and broadening of the recovery support community, increased insurance coverage, and public policy changes. I am here to share some more wishes for addiction treatment.
This week I would like to highlight three wishes for addiction treatment that I have for breaking new ground in areas where progress has not been as impressive:
- Changing the view that most physicians have about addicts. Many physicians have never knowingly seen addicts in recovery and therefore are very pessimistic about their prognoses. For years, I have arranged for the entire third year class of Georgetown Medical School to visit Kolmac in small groups and sit in on treatment sessions so that they can see addicts in the process of recovering. This exposes them to a more hopeful side of the illness in contrast with what they see during the rest of their training. Encouragingly, the students have been consistently enthusiastic about these experiences.
- Modifying the attitude the recovery community has towards tobacco. Many of our patients in early recovery are told to “take one thing at a time” and not stop their tobacco use until later in recovery, which sometimes means not stopping until it is too late, and their continuing to smoke causes disability and even death. Although these recommendations are made with confidence, there is no consistent evidence that stopping everything at once decreases the likelihood of recovery from their “primary” substance. This is just one of my wishes for addiction treatment.
- Relaxing the obstruction by the federal government of research to learn more about the positive as well as the negative aspects of marijuana. Legitimate researchers sometimes face almost impossible hurdles created by the FDA, NIDA, and the DEA to obtain marijuana for their studies from the only legal source available to them.
While I am concerned that there hasn’t been as much progress in these areas, I am encouraged by the ongoing dialogue the clinical community is having about addressing these discrepancies. It’s important that we remain engaged to achieve these wishes for addiction treatment.
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