One of the biggest issues that I feel every human being needs to be aware of is the fact that most doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, and other medical professionals do not have a thorough understanding of addiction and actually are a major part of our addiction problem. The state of medicine in our country has become symptom and drug-centered instead of focusing on educating about health and lifestyle choices and trying other remedies before prescribing drugs. Americans want a quick fix for everything, don’t we? Medicine is now about identifying symptoms and prescribing a drug that matches up with that symptom. Every drug has side effects and many of these drugs – especially newer ones prescribed for restless legs, bipolar disorder, and for trouble sleeping – are habit forming or contain compounds that can trigger addiction in people with a history of addiction problems.
Also, have you noticed that there are no questions about your family history of addiction or alcoholism anywhere on the paperwork that you fill out before seeing the doctor? There are questions about heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. but screening for family history of addiction is just not something doctors do. This is because in medical school they were not taught to see addiction as an illness/disease like any other. Doctors are left to make up their own minds about addiction — they totally miss out on the scientific evidence about the brain disease and how it works — and many buy into the stigma supported by the rest of society.
Hopefully times are changing! The NIDA announced back in November that they have been working with the American Medical Association on curriculum that will now be taught in all medical schools. Perhaps this is the beginning of a shift.
Imagine a world in which we treat addiction as the medical, biological, neurological brain disease that it is!
Read all about it here: