Pubdate: Wed, 12 Nov 2008
Source: State Journal-Register (IL)
Copyright: 2008 The State Journal-Register
Author: Robert Davies Ph.D/CADC//MISA I


I must respond to Ervin Stone's letter ("Substance abusers shouldn't
get priority," Friday) regarding substance treatment, as such
judgmental misconceptions can literally contribute to needless
continued suffering and deaths. As a 24-year substance professional, I
will note some important facts.

Stone claims that people choose to "drink ... or use drugs to the
point of addiction," when volumes of medical research over the past 50
years clearly document true substance dependences as genetic physical
conditions characterized by compulsion, increased tolerance (more drug
needed) and increasingly severe withdrawal symptoms.

I recommend "Alcohol and the Addictive Brain" by Dr. Kenneth Blum and
James Payne and "Beyond the Influence" by Katherine Ketcham (and
others) as two of many sources reviewing medical studies showing
addictions to be inherited, with addicts displaying abnormal responses
to substances early in their usage, well before the onset of regular,
excessive use. That is, addiction causes excess, and not vice versa.

For further clarification, consult the research of Drs. Marc Schuckit,
George Vaillant, Donald Goodwin, Robert Cloninger, Joel Gelernter or
Kent Hutchison, among many others. Dependence is no more "chosen" than
are the allergic reactions some have to pollen, peanuts, dairy
products or dust.

Regarding the addicts' relapses, research consistently shows that
those who are treated are more likely to recover, even if they relapse
more than once before achieving stable abstinence. Studies also show
that every $1 spent on treatment saves society $7 in medical, court
and other costs.

Furthermore, Drs. Charles O'Brien and Thomas McLellan have reported
(in The Lancet) that the percentage of addicts who disregard medical
advice and relapse is no greater than for persons treated for
hypertension, asthma or diabetes. Of course we appropriately continue
to treat the latter conditions.

Remember, you are not an expert on a disease because you know a
sufferer. Consult the professionals.

Robert Davies Ph.D/CADC//MISA I

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