A New day for Addiction Medicine
Okay, this is just unbelievable. 2 million out of 21 million Americans needing care for substance abuse receive treatment for it. That’s quite a low percentage, a little under 10 percent. Not just an F, but an F- as a letter grade.
That’s a gloomy stat all by itself, until you realize it’s even gloomier than that! See, most of those folks represented by the 2 blue stick figures don’t even receive evidence-based care. And if you’ve never heard the term before, evidence-based care (EBC) includes clinical expertise, patient values, and the best research evidence. In other words, exactly what you’d expect when receiving medical care for anything.
Clinical Treatment vs. Addiction Medicine
But if that all sounds too general, let’s break it down. Clinical expertise? Sure, I want medical people who know what they’re doing. Patient values. No-brainer, a patient should be respected and involved with their care, end of story. Best research evidence. Well… yeah, who wouldn’t want the best and latest medical evidence used in their care? I certainly don’t want medical care from the dark ages.
To square this away: under ten percent of people receiving substance abuse treatment don’t get medically advised care. So the next question is: how many actually get do? How low is that number? Unfortunately, there is so little data we can only assume it’s a figure small enough to fit under one of those stick figure’s hats.
Want to know why this is happening in our times? Well, as with any important matter, there are many reasons, and depending who you ask those reasons can be different. We can however pinpoint what makes sense right away. First off, for a long time the establishment has refused to accept new medical evidence over the socially accepted twelve step method. Secondly, it’s about money. Just getting funding for addiction treatment can be impossible. Beyond those two things, there’s also another large hurdle. Addiction medicine wasn’t a recognized area of specialization for physicians. It was and continues to be an emerging field. There simply wasn’t enough education and residency training for physicians to provide this kind of treatment.
The good news: that all changes now.
Thanks to the American Board of Medical Specialties, a new Addiction Medicine sub-specialty is available for physicians. This certification ensures substance abuse treatment uses current medical evidence and the understanding that addiction is a disorder of the brain. This will help get insurance coverage and services from board-certified addition specialists, and provide appropriate reimbursement to physicians, clinics and hospitals that offer services for substance abuse.
And that isn’t all. This also means that incentives will be created. Health insurance companies will desire to invest in the prevention of substance abuse to cut costs of future treatment. Prevention and early intervention is a win-win for all parties involved. Less money is spent. More people get help. And perhaps soon some sunshine can fall on those gloomy stats mentioned earlier and a new day for sober recovery in America will begin.
Because this is what we want to see.