"Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease"

“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease”

For years the term addiction has carried a stigma with it that had the power to bias the opinion of the most inexorable individuals.  The grip this word has on these stubborn, single-minded individuals may be loosening with the myriad of information now available regarding this most polarizing topic.

Without the willingness to remain open-minded, we are all susceptible to becoming victims of our training.  One old familiar saying is, “If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, all your problems look like nails”.  Granted it is difficult to change one’s belief that something is white, when all of their “education” has told them it is black.

 In October of this year the American Society of Addiction Medicine released a new definition of Addiction.  It reads as follows:

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among the brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences.  People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.  Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases. 

Oh boy, will this definition throw some into a conniption, or what?  We doctors/scientists can be the worst when it comes to “training tunnel vision”.  Addicts are weak individuals who have no willpower.  Addiction is a moral failing.  Don’t prescribe opioids or your patients will become addicts!  Aghhhhhh.  It is time we all entered the 20th century and began to at least face the possibility we need to continue to educate ourselves as there is new knowledge on this subject being published daily.

As 2020 fast approaches perhaps we could all be more open-minded regarding the 20 million people aged 12 or older who have a substance use disorder.  As a drug testing lab, we see all of the drugs being used as well as the names of the patients using them.  Our job is to partner with the providers to help them better treat their patients.  We receive calls daily regarding questions interpreting results.  That is part of our job and by doing it quickly and accurately we are able to contribute to this ongoing battle with substance abuse. 

I wish to personally wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  I hope that you all get to spend quality time with those you hold most dear to your hearts.  Those of you who work for the lab, I want to thank you for what many times can seem like a thankless job.  You may not realize how your job is important in the big scheme of things, but it is and I appreciate each and every one of you.  I would also like to thank all of the clinics who trust us enough to send us their patient drug samples.  We do not take this for granted and do our best job each and every time.

Thanks to all of you for your business.

Lance Benedict
President/CEO Industry Lab Diagnostic Partners