Kudos to Dr. Vivek Kumar and his insight into the real addiction issue in the Feb. 5 issue of the newspaper (“Addressing addiction begins with science”).

Having attended the recent three opiate forums in the area, the column brings into focus a major discrepancy in what we now know versus what we now do in the world of addiction treatment and recovery. There was, to my knowledge, not one medical representative at any of the forums. Instead, the emphasis remained in the legal realm along with some other government officials sharing the grim statistics of addiction. There were also several people who shared their encouraging stories of recovery.

Addiction is a disease that, for the most part, is genetic in origin, and most of its victims are predisposed to it. To be sure, as Kumar points out, the environment and social factors also play a role. But it is primarily a medical issue, and if the local communities are, with all their enthusiasm, ever to be successful in addressing this, then the medical community needs to be involved.

The focus remains on the antiquated approach of drugs as the problem. Addiction creates the imbalances a person (victim) experiences almost always long before the first use. The person with addiction is simply trying to “right the ship” by using, but because of the nature of their biology this attempt works against them. Many different attempts have been made to “fix” this. Insisting on treatment that includes moral inventories, addiction personalities and character defects simply perpetuates an outdated system.

Involving the medical community is the first priority. Focusing on the addiction and not on the addict is the first priority. Using medical science and not a stigma based approach is the first priority. Let’s start now.

Robert Creamer

Hallowell