It was not that long ago when people believed that alcoholism/addiction was a moral failing and resulted from a lack of willpower. Even today many people still view addiction in the same way, which has served to stigmatize those who suffer from what we now understand to be a disease. Thankfully, research into the subject of substance use disorder has led to a paradigm shift in how addiction is both viewed and treated. It is because of such research that substance use disorder can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
An Epidemic To Change
At the onset of the American prescription opioid epidemic, most states continued to think that they could arrest their way out of the problem. Erroneous thinking that quickly proved to be the wrong way to go, with over 2 million Americans battling with opioid use disorder. Both lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and law enforcement officials have changed how they view addiction, offering those caught with opioids treatment as opposed to jail.
There have been calls for expanded access to treatment services, as states struggle to provide addicts with the lifesaving help they need. What’s more, those who once viewed addiction as being a lack of constitution have changed their tune because they know or love someone who has battled or is battling with addiction. But, nevertheless, many Americans hold onto misconceptions about addiction and fail to understand why people can’t just stop using after experiencing negative effects on their life.
As with anything that happens in the brain, there is still a lot researchers do not completely understand—and some things we may never be able to fully grasp. But as we continue to stem the tide of opioid addiction in America, it is important that people take the time to learn about that which researchers do know about substance use disorder.
Changing The Brain
PBS recently covered addiction on the show The Open Mind, which featured Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Over the course of the interview, Volkow talks about addiction not as a moral failing, but rather the result of changes in the brain from continued drug use. Drug use, over time can change one’s prefrontal cortex which can impact one’s abilities to make optimal decisions, according to Volkow. The choice of continued use, is no longer really a choice at all.
Please take some time to watch the informative interview:
If you are having trouble watching it, please click here.
Addiction Going Forward…
Family Recovery Specialists offers adolescent and adult substance abuse counselors, treatment and consulting in Miami, Florida. We work to treat the unique needs of those who suffer from drug abuse and substance use disorder. To learn more about our services, please contact us.