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Drug and Alcohol Addiction is Recognized as a Disease, Not a Character Flaw

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, says it’s about time the government recognizes drug and alcohol addiction as a real medical condition, not a character flaw.

In a June 11th speech at the Betty Ford Center, he said “We know from scientific research conducted by some of the world’s leading neuroscientists that drug addiction is not a moral failing on the part of the individual. It’s a chronic disease of the brain that can be treated.”

The Stigma Attached to Drug Addiction has Real Effects

The government’s historical failure to recognize this fact has resulted in over 38,000 laws making it difficult for those in drug addiction treatment to rebuild their lives, says the National Institute of Justice. For example, even after serving a prison sentence related to drugs, someone in recovery can be barred from acquiring a driver’s license or getting certain jobs and can have great difficulty qualifying for a student loan or affordable housing. Kerlikowske stresses we need to lift the stigma and correct the misinformation surrounding addiction in order to reduce the obstacles facing recovering individuals. The Ranch PA agrees and thinks rehabilitation is always a better treatment choice than punishment. This core value is reflected in The Ranch PA’s holistically oriented recovery programs designed to support patients physically, mentally and emotionally in their struggle to overcome addiction.

Slow but Steady Progress

While there has been lobbying for nearly 20 years to convince Congress substance abuse rehabilitation is a form of healthcare, only recently did Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act require health insurance companies to cover drug addiction treatment. In addition Obama has expanded the voucher-based program for those in recovery. The funds can be used to pay for treatment or for services or products that help the individual to stay sober post-treatment, such as child care or professional work attire. Photo:U.S. Embassy, Kabul

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