According to a new report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University – and reported by our friends at The Partnership at Drugfree.org – only about 10% of those afflicted with addiction are receiving the help they need. The study, entitled Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice, suggests that addiction is greatly misunderstood, with many people still considering it to be a “moral failure or lack of willpower” as opposed to a disease of the brain. The report also indicates that most doctors are not prepared to intervene or treat addiction.
Susan Foster, CASA Columbia’s Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis and one of the authors of the study said in a news release, “Right now there are no accepted national standards for providers of addiction treatment. There simply is no other disease where appropriate medical treatment is not provided by the health care system and where patients instead must turn to a broad range of practitioners largely exempt from medical standards. Neglect by the medical profession has resulted in a separate and unrelated system of care that struggles to treat the disease without the resources or knowledge base to keep pace with science and medicine.”
Addiction affects 16 percent of Americans over the age of 12, or about 40 million total, the report says, exceeding the number affected by heart disease (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). Additionally, Foster pointed out that there are many reasons doctors are not prepared to deal with cases of addiction, noting that medical schools don’t cover addiction and that there is a lack of professional standards on how it should be treated.