Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Addiction as illness

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It’s now generally accepted that alcoholism is an illness, no more a moral failure than cancer. Viewing alcoholism as an illness has implications, of course: health insurance coverage, for one thing, but also the need to find treatments that will fight the disease. In other words, the definition has operational implications, as does the definition of alcoholism as moral failure—which definition doesn’t offer much to do except say “Get a grip” (to the alcoholic or, if you’re the alcoholic, to yourself). In general, saying “Get a grip” has a low success rate, whether used for alcoholism, depression, phobias, or whatever.

Now Germany is looking at nicotine addiction as an illness:

Germany’s Federal Medical Society is proposing to classify nicotine addiction as an illness, saying doctors should evaluate and treat heavily addicted smokers the same way they do patients suffering from physical illness. They hope that labeling smokers as being sick will pressure more of them to seek professional help to overcome their addiction. The label may be more than just a strategy, though. In June 1998, the Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., testified before a Congressional panel that addiction, including nicotine addiction, is now considered to be a chronic, recurring brain disease. German health insurance companies fear the Medical Society’s proposal will lead to a spike in smoking-related claims, and are unenthusiastic about paying for medical treatment for something they consider to be a “self-inflicted addiction.” About 140,000 German citizens die annually from smoking-related illnesses.

Source: Deutsche Welle (Germany), September 17, 2008

The US seems to believe the treatment of choice for drug addiction is locking the patient up in a prison.

Written by Leisureguy

19 September 2008 at 8:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

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