Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Resources for Addiction Treatment

Official portrait of United States Director of...
Official portrait of United States Director of National Drug Policy Gil Kerlikowske. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The White House has come clean about addicts staying clean by announcing that addiction should be treated as a disease rather than a moral failing. There has been much controversy over what addiction is. Some tout that it is the inability to follow one’s morals by staying away from drugs and alcohol through their own self will. Others, including the director of the National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, claim it is a disease tantamount to diabetes or cancer that can’t be cured through one’s own will power alone. There is a chemical reaction in the brain of an alcoholic or addict that makes them process drugs and alcohol differently than that of a normal person. Like a diabetics reaction to sugar, an addict’s reaction to substances is detrimental.

Speaking last Monday at the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, CA Kerlikowske asserted “this country hasn’t looked at recovery in a way that makes sense,” and that he needs to “use the bully pulpit of the White House in a way that brings it out into the open.”

What makes sense to Kerlikowske is to increase resources for addicts who need treatment and to focus on recovery.  The former three-pronged White House drug policy focused on criminalization, prevention and treatment.  Kerlikowske states that a new prong needs to be added to drug policy – resources for recovery.

Kerlikowske noted that nearly 21 million Americans need access to drug treatment but don’t receive it under current policies. He proposes new access by creating a voucher system to allow those in need to pay for treatment. He also stated that his agency will fight against the 38,000 state and local laws that prevent people from receiving the treatment they need.

Kerlikowske’s announcement of the shift in White House policy comes at a time when there is increased advocacy for people getting treatment they need, and treating drug addiction as a disease is a perfect first step to laws and resources opening up for those suffering.

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