40 million American are junkies for drugs, alcohol, or nicotine, according to Columbia addiction specialists. They want addiction screens adopted in "routine medical practice."
That's 16% of all Americans, says the report Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap between Science and Practice, issued last week by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
America's at-risk borderline cases -- those whom, "while not addicted, engage in risky use of addictive substances in ways that threaten health and safety" -- are estimated at 80 million, or 32% of the population.
Basically, per the researchers, almost half of us have substance abuse issues.
Maybe it's not as bad as it looks, though: The risky 32% are all tobacco users, all drinkers who "exceed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for safe alcohol use," and all who take "illicit drugs" or "misuse" controlled prescription drugs, but don't "meet clinical diagnostic criteria for addiction." So we guess "I can stop anytime I want to" puts you in this category.
As you may imagine, the folks at the National Center want more funding -- the U.S. spends $43.8 million on diabetes tretament, they note, but only $28 billion to treat addiction. But they also want better training of providers who come in contact with addicts.
"Addiction prevention and treatment are for the most part removed from routine medical practice," they report. "...most physicians and other health professionals do not identify or diagnose the disease or know what to do with patients who present with identifiable and treatable signs and symptoms."
Certified treatment counselors know what they're doing, but the National Center worries that
they "are not required to have any medical training and most states do not require them to have advanced education of any sort."
Nor are the counselors nor their organizations "adequately regulated or held accountable for providing treatment consistent with medical standards and proven treatment practices," say the authors.
They want the docs trained in med school, and non-physician health professionals "educated and trained
to address risky substance use and addiction."
And they recommend "screening and intervention for risky substance use, and diagnosis, treatment and disease management for addiction into routine medical practice."
Well, once obesity was established as a crisis, that became a screening -- if these folks can convicne people that addiction is a crisis, maybe addiction can too. Time to start pumping out more bath salts stories.