The Addiction Treatment Problem in the United States

Posted · Add Comment
medication-assisted-treatment-opioids

History Lesson

There is a problem in America that until recently Addiction Treatment has gone unobserved and unchecked. The problem is with addiction treatment as a whole, and the status quo: It hasn’t been working and now addiction disorders are literally epidemic in the United States.

CASAColumbia, one of the world’s most reputable addiction research organizations (housed out of Columbia University), has revealed what is going wrong in the field of addiction care in their groundbreaking report, Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice, 2012. (To read the full article and to learn more about their findings click HERE).

Essentially, what this five-year study illuminated was that treatment programs in America, and the services provided by the medical system as a whole, are failing the addiction sufferer. The report reveals that while about 7 in 10 people with diseases like hypertension, major depression, and diabetes receive treatment, only about 1 in 10 people who need treatment for addiction involving alcohol or other drugs receive it. Of those who do receive treatment, most do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care. Upon conclusion of the study they revealed these facts:

  • 16% of the U.S. population has the disease of addiction
  • 90% of the people with addiction receive no form of treatment at all
  • addiction treatment is largely neglected by U.S. medical system
  • no national treatment standards exist to ensure quality care–standardized treatment at most 30-day rehab centers demonstrate recidivism (relapse) rates near 80%—these are the same results you expect to see with placebo treatments!
  • most medical professionals who should be providing treatment are not sufficiently trained to diagnose or treat addiction
  • most of those organizations providing addiction treatment are not staffed with medical professionals and are not equipped with the knowledge, skills, or credentials necessary to provide the full range of evidence-based services, including pharmaceutical and psychosocial therapies and other medical care

The great shame in this is that we know how to treat addiction successfully—but what works is rarely what is offered by the medical community, or even within most of America’s rehab centers. What works is known as Evidence-Based Care.

Although evidence-based screening, intervention, treatment, and disease management tools and practices exist, they rarely are employed. In short, CASAColumbia’s report exposes the fact that most medical professionals who should be providing treatment are not sufficiently trained to diagnose or treat addiction, and most of those providing addiction treatment are not medical professionals and are not equipped with the knowledge, skills, or credentials necessary to provide the full range of evidence-based services, including pharmaceutical and psychosocial therapies and other medical care.