“Addiction treatment has an unforeseen benefit of making health reform more affordable,” said Victor Capoccia, Ph.D., director of Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap Initiative. “When addictions go untreated, a person’s medical care is fragmented, inefficient and ultimately, more costly. There is tremendous momentum now to reform the nation’s health care system, and including addiction treatment is a win-win for the nation. Access to effective treatment will help Americans live longer and healthier lives, and it will save billions of dollars over a decade’s time compared with the cost of not treating persons at all.”
Nature of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is one of the most common diseases in the United States. It is estimated that over nine million Americans need drug treatment, making addiction more prevalent than coronary heart disease and stroke and as prevalent as cancer. Addiction exacts an enormous burden on the nation, costing an estimated $69 billion in lost productivity, $12 billion in health care costs and $10 billion in spending on child welfare systems. There are more than 9,000 drug-induced deaths each year; and 25% of the nation’s AIDS cases result from injection drug use. Further, drug related arrests have significantly contributed to the doubling of the nation’s incarceration rate since 1985. (jointogether.com)
Genetic, individual and environmental factors play a role in the development of many illnesses, including addiction. As addiction runs in families, scientists are currently working to discover its precise genetic mechanism. Individual factors, such as the presence of depression or other psychiatric illness, may increase a person’s vulnerability to addiction. Social factors, including environmental stress and drug availability, also play a role. Finally, addictive drugs produce powerful physical and emotional changes that contribute to compulsive drug taking. (news.prwire.com)
National Treatment Gap
People with insurance are usually able to access treatment services through the private sector. In contrast, uninsured drug dependent individuals have limited access to the most basic treatment. Nationally, inadequate funding has led to a longstanding shortage of publicly funded treatment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that there are over three million Americans in need of drug treatment who are not receiving services. As a result, the personal and societal consequences of addiction continue unabated. Given the demonstrated effectiveness of treatment, it is essential to reduce this gap by increasing access to care.
Poverty and Addiction
Drug addiction is a formidable illness to overcome for people with adequate insurance, a good job and intact social supports. For marginalized and impoverished drug dependent people, the challenge is often even greater. These individuals must cope with drug addiction and inadequate access to treatment, insufficient education, few job skills and a lack of housing. They may be living in a neighborhood characterized by violence, a high incidence of drug use and open-air drug markets. These social problems exacerbate drug addiction and, ultimately, make recovery more difficult to achieve and sustain.(jointogether.com)
Todays historic vote on healthcare reform could mean preventative treatment and the kind of healthcare for addicts that many of us take for granted every day. It is time for a change. Peace
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