Friday, November 30, 2007

Is addiction a sickness?

Addiction a sickness, official says


Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2007

BENTONVILLE — The state’s drug director asserted Wednesday that addiction isn’t a moral issue but a physical illness, sparking a mini-debate with a lawmaker who said as a pastor he must disagree.

Fran Flener, who took the position May 1, told lawmakers that society should view addiction as a chronic disease that people relapse from, not a sign of moral weakness.

“Sometimes we think that those people that stay hooked on drugs just do that because they choose to,” she said. “I think these people who deal with treatment every day will tell you that’s not true. That’s not true at all.” Flener spoke at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committees, meeting at the Bentonville campus of the drug treatment program Decision Point Inc.

The drug director’s comments riled state Rep. Roy Ragland, R-Marshall, who’s been a pastor for 26 years.

“It’s a decision you make,” Ragland said of doing drugs. “Have we as a state decided meth [methamphetamine ] use is not morally wrong ?” Flener said there’s a difference between starting to use drugs and being an addict. Many people use drugs most of their lives — alcohol for example — and never become addicted, she said. There’s a growing pool of evidence that shows there’s a biological component, she said.

Ragland pointed to No. 5 on the “12 Steps” program hanging on the wall to his right. It reads: “Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Ragland told Larry Counts, chief executive officer of Decision Point, that if that’s part of the treatment program’s success, “that indicates to me that it is a moral wrong.” House Committee Chairman Eddie Cooper, D-Melbourne, later pointed out a lifelong friend of his in the audience, Donnie Vest of Melbourne. Vest, an alcoholic, checked in to Decision Point two weeks ago.

“He’s the most moral person I know,” Cooper said.

Vest said his addiction is “a mental problem, a sickness as physical as cancer.” He said he’s learning the tools to treat it.

“It’s like a fog coming off of the lake. That is definitely not a moral problem,” Vest said.

Flener serves as chairman of the state’s Drug Abuse Coordinating Council and said her job is to try to coordinate drug policy for the state and to ensure that grant funds are properly spent by drug task forces.

She said her office continues to work on trying again to get four counties — Benton, Washington, Jefferson and Pulaski — designated as High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. State officials have campaigned for the designation for years, which would make Arkansas eligible for more federal money to fight the spread of illegal drugs, with money for overtime pay for police, for example.

The request has been denied three times by federal officials, but she said she’s hoping to hear maybe as early as January whether the fourth try will be successful.


Katie said...

Very interesting debate, eh? I think even saying that addiction is, or is not, moral depends on your morals, haha. Seriously, though. The great thing about America is that people can have any number of views and standpoints. I do agree on this, though...if you feel substance abuse is immoral, then I agree with Flener. There's a difference between abusing the substance, and the inherent addiction that occurs from abusing the substance. The conscious decision of using the substance to begin with is the "moral" or "immoral" part of the equation. After that decision, addiction kicks in, and there is no ability to decide. Now, you could say that because you made the decision to use in the first place, that makes the use immoral and, thus, the addiction immoral--but I kind of have to agree with Vest in the regard that if you no longer have a conscious decision, then it's beyond your control.

Addiction is one of those really tough topics to discuss because political and religious agendas always get intertwined in the middle and cloud the issue. The important part of the issue is really getting down and dirty and UNDERSTANDING how addiction works, how it affects the mind, and how it affects everyone that's a part of the system. You should really watch that new A&E show called Intervention. They convince the addict that they're part of a documentary, and then they use the footage and research to show how the addiction is affecting their lives, relationships, and families. It's really gripping and really a great insight into the world of addiction. You should really check it out: I think that the new series premieres on the 3rd of December at 9pm, but I'm not sure. What are your thoughts on the actual treatment process of addiction?

Jack Register, MSW, LCSW said...

Addiction, like all MH/DD/SAS issues, are ones of access. As Social Workers bound by a Code of Ethics, we treat all people with dignity and respect.

I do not have an opinion on the chicken or egg question of where does addiction come from. The fact that North Carolinians have addictive disorders that have been codified by the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual put out by the APA) means they need services.

Our role as social workers is to meet clients where they are first. Once we establish a rapport we begin to "step into the role" of our client by understanding how they see the issue.

I find, as a clincian, these debates only overshadow the real issues. We need to serve these folks, however addiction occurs.

jim2008 said...

i am getting much more info about the addiction.
there are different types of addicted for different things.
but they know it is harmful to us.
but they do this automatically.
the addiction is sickness.
if anyone can addict for something.
but they leave the habit not suddenly.
but they try to stop this habit is much good for their health.
Addiction treatment and recovery resources for the addict and their families.

evie1131 said...

People or an addict person wanted to recover from addiction, he can. Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who's addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both. If you want to recover from this, you have to tell your friends and don't think that you are addicted to these stuff, you are bad. It's not. You have to trust your friends, your self and most especially God. Don't loose hope. There is always a chance for a person who wanted to change.

Comprehensive resources for those looking for recovery from addiction.

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