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New Program Aims to Help Doctors Break Down Stigma of Addiction

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has created a new program to help primary care providers break down the stigma of addiction. The Addiction Performance Project includes a dramatic interpretation of a family’s struggle with addiction, followed by a dialogue among participants designed to foster compassion and understanding for patients living with addiction.

According to a NIDA press release, many primary care providers say they do not have the experience or tools to identify drug use in their patients. The program aims to help these doctors move beyond their comfort zone in discussing drug abuse with their patients. Doctors receive continuing medical education credits for completing the program.

The program begins with a reading of Act III of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, followed by an expert panel reaction and facilitated audience discussion. The first performances were at Harvard Medical School and Emerson College in Boston on March 28th. The program was also held this weekend in Washington, D.C. The next performance is in Phoenix on May 6th. For more information or to register for a performance visit NIDA’s website.

CORRECTION: We previously stated that the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Addiction Performance Project launched this weekend in Washington, D.C., but the first performances actually took place in Boston on March 28 at Harvard Medical School and Emerson College.

9 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of FP
    FP / April 25, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    So many lives are destroyed by addiction, including all the people who are part of the addict’s life. I sincerely hope that DD Boots NEVER has to experience this kind of suffering. Addiction is a very complicated phenomena – the reasons someone begins, what prompts the addict to seek help (or not), how the addict’s family and loved ones deal with the issue – there is no single or simple answer. One thing I know from experience: once the addict is at the bottom of the addiction pit, it is an arduous climb to sobriety that calls for an intelligent balance of compassion and knowing how to draw appropriate boundaries in relation to them.

  2. Avatar of CF
    CF / April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    It is often doctors (and nurses) who perpetuate the stigma of addiction.

  3. Avatar of Doug
    Doug / April 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    What scary addictive “logic”: “Addicted people feel the shame and don’t seek help because there are plenty of people judging them.” I could argue that I did not quit cocaine until ENOUGH people were judging me. Shame is a great excuse to keep using; there are lots of others. The hypothesis that addiction is a disease obscures the fact that people who start using drugs are responsible for their choices, just like a diabetic who does not follow medical advice must face the consequences. For most people the use of drugs begins as 95% fun and 5% pain. It is generally when the fun to pain ratio becomes unsustainable that an addict will quit and/or seek help. A combination of choices and genetics make life a crap shoot for all of us but that does not absolve us of personal responsibility for our actions. In all my years as a clinician and program director I have seen very few people helped by referring to their pattern of habitual self-intoxication as a disease. More often it’s a convenient excuse for the next relapse as in “my disease made me stop returning phone calls from my therapist and sponsor, abandon my family and use our grocery money to buy white powder so I could catch a buzz.” Gee, that sounds like the disease of selfish hedonism. Let’s try calling it that before the emperor catches a cold from the disease of nudity.

  4. Avatar of Danette
    Danette / April 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Until doctors tell their patients that addiction is a disease, then how can people like DD Boots accept it. Uneducated people have very closed minds. Addiction for a fact a disease. It’s like having diabetes. Would DD be shocked and not believe it? Probably. It’s a family disease and it’s deadly. If more people understood that instead of judging others, we would have a better chance at saving lives. Addicted people feel the shame and don’t seek help because there are plenty of people judging them. I believe no one has the right to judge others especially when no one is perfect.

  5. DD BOOTS / April 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    No one will ever change my thoughts on addiction. It is there choice and own stupidity
    to be the way they are and they
    could care less how they effect
    others!

  6. Avatar of Don Fultz
    Don Fultz / April 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    The tone of your discourse suggests that nobody will change your mind about anything. I for one wouldn’t try, Hoever I have noted that intelligent people change their minds all the time.

  7. Avatar of William B. Webb, Ph.D.
    William B. Webb, Ph.D. / April 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Would you say the same thing about a loved one who died from heart disease due to eating too much animal based foods? To follow your logic, “it’s their own fault and stupidity.” (So they deserve to die???)
    But of coarse, you’ve already stated you’ll never change your mind about addiction. Therefore I won’t waste our time with providing any facts. These are the kinds of attitutdes about which my grandfather taught me. He advised one should “never try to teach a pig how to whistle; because it wastes your time and annoys the pig. So I won’t bother. I pray you discover a more compassionate and accurate view of addiction soon.

  8. Avatar of Tracie
    Tracie / April 22, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    My goodness. Such a strong opinion. Why then, may I ask are you even on this site?

  9. Avatar of serenity Ranch
    serenity Ranch / April 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I would have to assume that DD is being deliberately provocative as I find it hard to believe someone who can read could have such a ridiculous opinion.
    That is my example of a provocative statement.
    I think if they are not just being devils advocate DD must have been hurt by someone who they see as being an addict and want to see them suffer as much as DD feels he or she suffered.
    Grow up DD suffering is universal it is how you deal with it that shows what you are.

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