is a Lack of Understanding
Many people misunderstand addiction. First and foremost addiction is a disease. It is not a bad habit and it is not a weakness. Like any other major disease it can be fatal if not treated. Frequently we are made aware of people who have died from substance abuse.
The Complexities of Addiction
Lack of research is compounded by a lack of professional education. In the otherwise extensive education of medical doctors only a total of 30 hour or less of their entire university program is devoted to addiction diagnosis, treatment and general understanding of the disease. This insufficient amount of education is further complicated by the fact that addiction is difficult to diagnose, time consuming and requires specialized knowledge. This lack of education for general addiction diagnosis is further complicated by traditional pain management treatment and the overuse of prescription medication. People with addictions often demand pain medication and too often they are given it, as well as numerous preauthorized prescription repeats.Some people “doctor shop”, going to numerous doctors and obtaining multiple prescriptions.
Addiction: A Fatal Disease
The disease of addiction is one of the world’s most fatal diseases with the least amount of research. The underlying causes of addiction are different to each person and makes proper diagnosis and treatment more difficult and time consuming than many other diseases. Often, people who do not suffer with addiction rationalize the disease as a weakness in character. "Just say no" is a great expression; however, it reinforces the misunderstanding the public has about addiction. This lack of public knowledge is further hampered by lack of empirical research. Addiction is one of the least researched diseases because of its complexity and misunderstanding, despite the number of deaths related to addiction.