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Dr Frank James on the Role of Stigma in Addiction Treatment


It is important to treat addiction as a chronic disease and to address the stigmatization of both the addiction and the treatments we have available to treat it, said Dr Frank James, MD, JD, of American Society of Addiction Medicine.


What is the role of stigma and how does it prevent people from getting treatment?

One aspect of approaching this epidemic is getting rid of the stigmatization of addiction and opioid addiction. It’s important to realize that people that have an opioid addiction, it’s not a moral problem or a problem of not wanting to get better or stay clean and sober. It is a chemical process in the brain. It can be treated with medication assistant treatments. Anyone can be addicted to an opioid. It can be your neighbor, your teacher. It crosses all socioeconomic barriers, and so once we approach it as a chronic disease and realize that there are treatments for this, then the stigma about having addiction goes away. So, we really need to address the stigmatization of both the addiction and the stigmatization of the treatments we have that are available to help people with this problem.

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