Remember that post a few weeks ago about medicalization of addiction treatment?
Here it comes:
Boosting interest in addiction medicine are a handful of promising new pharmaceuticals, most notably buprenorphine (sold under brand names like Suboxone), which has been proven to ease withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts and subsequently block cravings,though it causes side effects of its own. Other drugs for treating opioid or alcohol dependence have shown promise as well.
Few addiction medicine specialists advocate a path to recovery that depends solely on pharmacology, however. “The more we learn about the treatment of addiction, the more we realize that one size does not fit all,” said Petros Levounis, who is in charge of the residency at the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.
Equally maligned is the idea that psychiatry or 12-step programs are adequate for curing a disease with physical roots in the brain. Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol do not have psychiatric problems, Dr. Alford noted, being quick to add, “I think there’s absolutely a role for addiction psychiatrists.”
While each school has developed its own curriculum, the basic competencies each seeks to impart are the same. Residents will learn to recognize and diagnose substance abuse in patients, conduct brief interventions that spell out the treatment options and prescribe medications to help with withdrawal and recovery.
I wonder if they’ll learn how addiction is treated when the addict is a physician?