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If Doctors Would Diagnose Addiction

by James Heller 5. September 2012 14:10
If you consider that there are an estimated 22 million Americans with a drug or alcohol problem, you might assume that doctors regularly diagnose and treat them.  Reality is, though, that most doctors have never been trained to in addiction treatment, and usually treat only the symptoms of the disease.  Fortunately, some new treatments involving medications may change this sad situation.
One big problem with alcoholism and drug addiction is that so many medical problems result from them.  Substance abuse negatively affects different parts of the body, depending on the drug being used.  Alcohol abuse, without exaggeration, harms every cell in the body.  To the untrained in addiction medicine, the symptoms of these abuses might appear as primary problems, only requiring common treatments.  For example, a doctor may prescribe specialized medication for a bleeding ulcer and schedule a follow-up visit.

Another problem with addiction is that alcoholics and drug addicts are not quick to admit their problems.  Even if a doctor asks about drinking and drug use habits, these patients will minimize or deny it.  Short of the patient arriving at 9:00am and smelling of alcohol, or having injection track marks up and down their arms, untrained doctors will not see a reason to investigate.  The answer is often accepted as true and the doctor looks to heal the symptom.  

The result is that alcoholics and drug addicts get temporary relief from negative symptoms of their disease, but don’t receive, at the very least, guidance from their doctors on how to prevent them in the future.  The worst result is that people die every day from the negative effects of alcoholism and drug addiction.  Most of them could have been saved had they been given early treatment for the primary disease of addiction.

According to this article, there is possible good news on the horizon.  There is an effort to attract doctors to the addiction treatment field, and to promote addiction medicine as a recognized subspecialty.  Medical treatment and new prescription drugs are proving to be effective means of helping addicts to recover.  Counseling for the psycho-social aspects of the disease is still important, but detox and craving reduction medications, like Vivitrol, have become very beneficial in the early days of recovery.

Tarzana Treatment Centers provides Vivitrol treatment for alcohol and opiate craving reduction, for example.  This follows medical detoxification, which is important to avoid the severe effects of withdrawals.  We have seen some great success stories from patients who previously struggled with relapse after their first Vivitrol injection.  

Imagine if doctors could diagnose addiction from the symptoms they normally treat.  They could make a referral to a detox facility, followed with Vivitrol for eligible patients, and maybe residential or outpatient treatment.  Patients tend to listen to doctors more than they would even to their most beloved family members.  Hopefully, the effort mentioned above can spread so more of those who suffer can get the treatment they need.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides a full array of health care services including adult and youth alcohol and drug treatment.  We specialize in treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, and have two primary medical care clinics in the San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley and specialized services for HIV/AIDS care.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependencedrug addiction, or co-occurring mental health disorders or from other services we offer, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us using our secure contact form.

Telemedicine services are also available with online medical care, online mental health treatment, and online alcohol and drug treatment.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.