The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia) issued a new report Monday and the medical profession is being singled out. More Americans suffer from substance abuse than any other major medical issue and are, largely, not getting treatment for it. 70% of people who suffer from hypertension, diabetes and depression get help while only 10% of those with addictions are treated. According to the study, 40 million Americans, ages 12 years and older have an addiction whether it be to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. An additional 80 million Americans use substances harmfully.
The report also cites a wide variance in treatment options and a lack of consistency in caregivers from state to state. Principal Investigator Susan Foster, CASA Columbia's Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis says:
"Right now there are no accepted national standards for providers of addiction treatment. There simply is no other disease where appropriate medical treatment is not provided by the health care system and where patients instead must turn to a broad range of practitioners largely exempt from medical standards. Neglect by the medical profession has resulted in a separate and unrelated system of care that struggles to treat the disease without the resources or knowledge base to keep pace with science and medicine."
The report includes recommendations as well as other findings:
- Acute treatment is used for a chronic disease,
- There is a distorted public perception of the disease of addiction vs. harmful behavior, and
- Of the 11% of total government spending, 95 cents of every dollar is spent on consequences with only 2 cents spent on treatment and prevention.
"It is time for health care practice to catch up with the science. Failure to do so causes untold human suffering and is a wasteful misuse of taxpayer dollars," Director Foster concluded.