The Anatomy of Addiction

Read The Anatomy of Addiction for Free Online

Book: Read The Anatomy of Addiction for Free Online
Authors: MD Akikur Mohammad
between effective treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, based on real medicine, is misinformation and ignorance.
    In this chapter I tell it straight—no spin, no hidden agenda, no ulterior motives. Only by telling and absorbing the real facts about alcohol and drug addiction will the American public and its elected leaders be able to come to terms with a rational strategy for dealing effectively with addiction. The truth shall, indeed, set us free.
    So, take a walk with me now down the Hall of Shame of the ten biggest myths about alcohol and drug addiction.
    1.Addiction Is a Problem of Willpower and Abstinence, Which Is Why Medications Don’t Work
    The biggest myth of all is that addiction is a problem of willpower and abstinence. The foundation for the sorry state of addiction treatment in this country was inadvertently started in the 1930s by an out-of-work investment banker named Bill Wilson. At the time Wilson had his revelation of what would become Alcoholics Anonymous, he was being treated in a hospital for alcoholism with an experimental drug whose active ingredient was belladonna, a plant known for its hallucinogenic effects (or death, if you ingest too large of a dose). Ironic, isn’t it? The man who would set the standard treatment for addiction in the United States in the twenty-first century was being medicated with a psychoactive substance when he came up with it during the Great Depression.
    Here’s the fact of the matter: There isn’t now nor was thereever any evidence that AA’s 12-step group talk therapy could treat addiction effectively. Indeed, AA itself never claimed to be the end-all answer to addiction and qualified the idea by emphasizing that its particular pseudo-spiritual philosophy isn’t for everyone.
    That’s not to say that AA 12-step programs cannot be helpful as part of an overall treatment program for addiction that includes medications, psychological counseling, and lifestyle modifications. And by the way, that formula for treatment sounds a lot like the treatment protocol for other chronic brain diseases like bipolar disorder. However, AA is part of the problem of addiction treatment in America because it’s remained intransigent on the point that its philosophy of abstinence alone can work miracles.
    Fortunately, modern science tells us something different. Through diagnostic tools like MRI, we can see how the brain circuitry of addicts is wired differently from nonaddicts. The advent and use of pharmaceutical drugs since the mid-1990s to stop the craving that is characteristic of substance addiction clearly show us that medications can and do work. Thanks to evidence-based treatment, thousands of addicts formerly debilitated by their disease are living happy and normal lives: holding jobs, paying taxes, and surrounding themselves with friends and family.
    2. Addicts Should Be Punished for Using Drugs and Drinking Too Much Because in the End, They Know Better
    It is not a crime in the United States to have the physical illness of addiction. But if the object of your addiction, such as illicitdrugs, is illegal, you could be arrested and prosecuted for the mere act of possessing it. However, this places the person suffering from addiction in a situation of continually interacting with the criminal underworld rather than with medical professionals.
    Imagine if we criminalized insulin or inhalers? Our jails would be filled with diabetics and asthma patients.
    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart clearly and eloquently defined the problem in 1962 when he wrote in the case of
Robinson v. California
that “drug addiction is an illness and not a crime” and that “punishing someone for an illness violates the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
    Let’s take it from another perspective. Numerous studies have shown it’s much less expensive to treat people with drug problems than to toss them into prison.
    Adding to the Alice in

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