It’s certainly encouraging to hear that the new Mills administration is far more open to treatment of addiction than the previous administration. However there seems to be a continuation of the same misdirection and misunderstanding about addiction.  We don’t have an “opioid epidemic,” as the media keeps reporting — we have an undertreated and misunderstood addiction epidemic that continues to grow, not shrink.

One example among many is shared in the Feb. 17 article on opioids (“Opioid epidemic treatment gets boost”). There are 82 sober houses in Maine with only seven accepting patients for medication-assisted treatment. What is the philosophy of the other 75?  More of the same early 20th-century, outdated and, at times, punitive treatment approaches that don’t work.

Having worked in the recovery field for many years and now as a volunteer with several agencies, the education suggested falls short.  I’ve met many people who went through the DARE program as a child and now struggle with addiction. Why? Because, ironically, substance use is not the problem. Instead, it is a symptom. Successful treatment of any disease, especially one as complex as this, is found in treatment at its points of origin. Continued focus on substances will perpetuate our limited results.

Addiction is a genetically-based environmentally and socially influenced disease process that needs to be addressed through medical supervision and emotional spiritual direction by qualified addiction recovery specialists.

There is exciting research going on that has determined the biological location of addiction in the brain’s “reward center.” Genetic tests are being developed so we may soon be able to act on rather than react to addiction. A treatment called TMS is showing promising results.

It’s time to bring treatment into the 21st century to ensure a better chance of recovery.


Robert Creamer


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