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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Understandings About Substance Dependence

Over the last couple of years, I've learned many, many things about substance dependence. At first, I found it very difficult to remain receptive to so many opinions about the problems we face during this terrible health epidemic caused by prescription drug abuse. We all have our own answers to difficult questions. It is easy to be narrow minded and to proceed accordingly. But, lately, I have come to realize that open ears and an open mind can lead to more fruitful actions.

The scope of this problem is so wide that I sometimes forget about all its dark avenues and concentrate on only a few of the major familiar routes. Being more aware of my once narrow focus, I am making a concerted effort to broaden my understandings so that I may be a better resource person.

On this blog I've made judgments based on information I have obtained. But, I know now I should reserve many opinions and remain inquisitive during problem solving. Sometimes, I find that I must adjust and change my views as I gain better, deeper understandings. In fact, some of the earlier entries about abuse on the blog reflect a somewhat sophomoric view. I see now that I am truly a student who must look to wiser heads for answers to very difficult questions.

I have found that emotions can blur the "big picture." I am becoming more conscious of the value of unbiased information. I tend to follow my mentors and to investigate information pertinent to particular problems we face in Scioto County.  I try to look at our area with objective eyes and to compare our plight to that of the rest of the nation. I have found to get a complete view of substance dependence, I must exercise keen observation over an extended period of time. I try to control my emotional responses more now as I exercise increased patience and seek the learned views of those in-the-know.

In the realm of treatment, I have widened my understandings. For example, I have seen the appropriate, effective use of methadone and suboxone. I believe they help many people. Still, I do realize these substances must be handled with utmost care. I realize those who are addicted need strong, caring physicians who are committed to helping them with quality programs that include strict safeguards against serious side effects and overdose. Surely, these treatments, under correct supervision, will continue to aid many. Some promising new treatments are being explored.

I now believe that substance dependence is a disease that usually requires long-term or even lifetime treatment. As people struggle with addiction, they need better access to safe means of treatment and rehabilitation. They also need support from friends as they struggle with stress and cues that evoke craving for addictive substances. Most need considerable financial assistance.

I know those who are dependent struggle with the means to live meaningful lives. I believe they deserve the right to receive affordable treatment so that they may live productive, happy lives with jobs and families. Throwing them into jails or isolating them in ghettos does not benefit society but instead creates bigger burdens -- major financial, relationship, and health concerns.

I understand that there is a very high comorbidity between substance abuse and other mental disorders. As research continues to uncover the mechanisms of addictive personalities, science holds hope of alleviating the suffering of those who are substance dependent. Surely the public will find it necessary to improve the overall mental health of those who are impaired.

I understand that people take one or more of the 100 or so chemical substances that are addictive to feel good (seek a sensation) or to feel better (self-medicate). I realize these chemicals have become rooted in American culture and we must deal with their existence. I believe we all must become better informed about drugs and their effects, especially the effects of prescription medications.

I hope people realize that those who are dependent need help and should not be stigmatized as druggies, failures, and rejects. The problem of drug abuse crosses all divisions of society: the rich and the poor, the timid and the careless get caught in the deadly web.

I must continue to learn and to press appropriate action to help lessen the misery. I hope many others vow to do so.

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