After reading “Slaying the Dragon”, Bill White’s outstanding history of addiction treatment in America, I was struck by how variable the receptivity of the general community can be to this issue – that there have been better and worse times for this field. This broad overview, in addition to my own clinical experience with addiction beginning in medical school in 1965, has convinced me that we are currently living in one of the better times for a person to be to be involved with a substance use disorder. I believe that this is the case whether one is a clinician with a professional interest or is someone dealing with it on a personal level.
I am also aware that pessimism and stigmatization about this set of conditions are still very much with us. This column is my attempt to increase awareness of the positive developments in the field of substance use disorder and is intended audience is both professionals and lay individuals. I will describe my personal opinions and support them when possible with documentation. Because this field is marked by significant controversy, I will try to make clear how much consensus or disagreement exists around a particular issue.