The Surgeon General office recently released a statement saying that addiction is a brain disorder. Last year alone more than 21 million Americans struggled with addiction, the same number of people suffering from diabetes, one of the leading health problems in the United States.
Keeping the diabetes comparison, all diabetics receive medical help for their disorder, but only one in ten addicts benefit from the same treatment.
Vivek Murthy, the current United States Surgeon General, declared that in the case of any other disease, medical officials would have been outraged to find out that the system only treats one in ten patients.
According to a 2015 report, over 27 million individuals admitted to abusing prescription or illegal drugs. Moreover, over 66 million people stated that they engaged in binge drinking in the month before the survey.
Murthy believes that the situation can be fixed, but it will require a lot of effort from both physicians and the authorities. The Surgeon General suggests the inclusion of more screening methods in medical practices.
However, the biggest change, that is also the most urgent, is the fact that people should change the way they look at addiction.
He states that addiction has been considered a moral failing for far too long, the stigma that was created in the process adding an extra burden to addicts that are struggling with their condition. If individuals understand that addiction is not fueled by moral impairment, but rather a wrong concentration of chemicals in the brain, they will feel more at ease when they search for medical assistance.
Murthy insists that doctors must explain to their patients that addiction is the same as cancer, diabetes, and heart disorders.
The Surgeon General is not the only medical professional that believes that addiction is a brain disorder and not proof of weak spirit or a flawed moral. Numerous economists, neuroscientists, and psychiatrists have explored the hypothesis. Furthermore, several studies conducted in the last decade supports Murthy’s claims.
Maia Szlavitz, author and neuroscience journalist, recently published a book entitled Unbroken Brain. In her book, Szlavitz says that addiction resembles ADHD, as it affects the brain in a way similar to a learning disorder. She suggests that addiction should be approached differently, cognitive behavioral therapy being effective in fighting the disorder.
Now that you know that addiction is a brain disorder, will you change the way you look at people struggling with the disease?
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