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wundayatta's avatar

If the government sees addiction as a disease instead of a behavioral issue, will that help people get better treatment?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 9th, 2012

Apparently, there are not enough beds in addiction treatment facilities in New Jersey. So advocates are trying to get The Republican Hero of the State, Governor Christie, to fund more beds, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Advocates are arguing it is cheaper to treat folks in rehab than in jail. Part of the argument seems to be that addiction is a disease, not a behavioral problem. Public opinion seems to maintain that individuals should be able to deal with behavioral problems on their own, but if it’s a disease, then it is believable they require medical help.

Do you buy this argument? And if you do, do you think it will help sell politicians, of whatever intelligence, on the need for and advantage of public support for rehab treatment programs for addictions? Why do you believe what you believe?

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13 Answers

josie's avatar

No. Addiction is not a disease. It is addiction. A physical and psychological problem that can be threatening to life and happiness to be sure, but giving it a different name does not change anything about it.

Calling it a disease just gives people, usually politicians and bureaucrats, an excuse to treat addicts with the same resources and institutions that are normally used to treat heart attacks and cancer. It also creates an aura of innocence around the addict. And maybe sometimes that is deserved. Especially in the case of children. But not always. In the 21st Century, most adults in the industrialized world know that they are playing with fire when they first experiment with drugs. Instead of forcing them to look at themselves and the nature of their problem, and confronting it with the appropriate levels of moral honest, people enable them with terminology usually reserved for true victims of chance.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I don’t particularly think it matters, or at least it shouldn’t matter, what you call it or how you classify it. However, I do believe the decision on how to treat it should be made by society in reflection of its values not by insurance companies protecting their bottom line or politicians protecting their office.

zenvelo's avatar

A stint in treatment is much cheaper than jail, that has been shown many times. But there are behavioral problems as a result of addiction, and the state needs to be in a non-co-dependent, non-enabling, tough love.

In my opinion, it works best when the state can offer help for someone willing to address their addiction, and punishment for illegal behaviors for people unwilling to address it.

Addiction is a disease that is difficult to control , but can be controlled.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I believe that addiction is an addiction like josie. In my experience, which is pretty vast with addictions, you have to admit you have a problem, accept that it is affecting your life, your work, your health and your relationships and stop.

I’ve seen hardcore addicts stop cold turkey and survive, to go on leading successful and happy lives. I don’t believe coddling addicts and all the psycho-babble about their unhappy childhoods is the answer. It takes a very strong person to face addiction and beat it, period. If you go through a self-enforced detox for two weeks, rarely does an abuser need medical help unless they are a large dose user, frankly we’re talking very very heavy doses of the drug of choice.

In our area of the US, any adult can check themselves into rehab if they feel they need help- we are the meth capital of the US after all.

woodcutter's avatar

“I’ve seen hardcore addicts stop cold turkey and survive, to go on leading successful and happy lives”

Name them

KNOWITALL's avatar

Why, do you think you’d know a random meth-head or pill addict or alcoholic in Missouri?

woodcutter's avatar

You just said you did.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I do, but I live here doofus. You want names that mean nothing to you, like my cousin Buck the meth-addict who runs around the park trying to sell fake arrowheads to buy drugs with?

Don’t let’s waste time…what do you want to know, how to detox off of Norco’s or how to stop meth cold turkey…I’ve seen people detox off all of it because I hate what it does to my friends, my family and how it affects everyone around you. It’s still an addiction though.

woodcutter's avatar

Isn’t about one out 50 Missourians a meth head out in the rural parts?So in order for your statement to have merit there will have had to have been a crap load of successful “cold turkeyers” among them to really quantify that as the standard, right?

KNOWITALL's avatar

Not sure about your number but I know quite a few. Not even in rural parts, it’s everywhere, even in suburbia.

Do you think meth-heads who snort and shoot radiator fluids and anhydrous care or acan afford detoxing in a medically safe environment? No.

woodcutter's avatar

Can you at least supply their initials and home town? Not trying to call you out or anything but to to make a blanket statement like that which have ambiguities engineered into it, is going to be very high on the bullshit gauge, if you get what I mean.
What you have attempted to do there is to justify letting sick people go because you are applying a standard that will only be met by a scarce few and call the rest just not willing to be compliant. You can never use the accomplishments of the exceptional few (one or two)as the standard of the rest. That has long been in the right wing debating playbook and not to be taken as common knowledge. You won’t help enough people that way and the luster of the feel good attempt will bear no fruit. The default explanation will be the next right wing solution in that same debate rule book is “they just didn’t try hard enough and its their fault…again”
It takes a long time to get off of addictive substances. The reason they are labelled as such is because they destroy the free will of the victim to the point they become helpless to do it. Cold turkey will kill people if they attempt it. Unfortunately it also costs a lot of money to help each person and such people are easily labeled bad so its easy to just say fuck them and divert funding towards something that will get some kind of sure return. I don’t like meth-heads. I don’t like them at all but, if they were to get clean then they would probably be ok in my book.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that science has shown that addiction is a genetic predisposition (along with mental instability). However, some people can over-come addiction, especially with help/treatment – but they do have to decide that over-coming addiction is a worthwhile effort & even then it is a genuine struggle. Insurance companies have far too much say in who gets treated & who does not, and that is why so few actually get treatment for drug/alcohol addiction. It is far easier to throw these people in jail, especially now that we have the new For Profit Prisons. If these people are in jail & someone is making money off of them, then the public thinks that the problem has been solved. Of course, the problem has not been solved, & lives continue to be destroyed. But the government has to cut corners somewhere & the left over ideas of the Puritans that addicts are less than human means that very few people are concerned about the people who are addicts.

KNOWITALL's avatar

No, I don’t think I would like to list any names.

Seriously though, most addicts I know or have known have to ‘decide’ to stop and go through the dt’s for a few weeks, then dust themselves off, get up and get back to living. It’s almost like smoking cigarettes in that the ultimate decision is up to the user.

N/A and AA are great voluntary programs and I highly recommend them to anyone seeking help. What I’m afraid of is that if the government is involved rehab will become mandatory, and I can honestly tell you that until you’re ready, it just won’t work.

I also agree with Linda_Owl that no one wants to admit to anyone, let alone an insurance company, that they need them to pay for rehab. It’s like saying, hey, I’m a loser and you’re going to pay for it. It’s too much hassle for already fragile people.

What we need is a free rehab in each city across the US and to get rid of all methadone clinics!!! I watch my brother in law die a little more every day and until he admits he has a problem there is absolutely nothing I can do to help him.

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