15 April 2009

Is Addiction A Disease?

I just wanted to comment on the story,



"James Purnell says: alcoholics should seek help or lose benefits".

It's of interest because it is such a strange story. "Alcoholics may have benefits withdrawn from them unless they agree to go on a government treatment programme, the work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, suggested yesterday.

"The government is already piloting plans to require drug addicts to go on treatment programmes or lose benefit, ...
"

The problem is, "Purnell has asked Glasgow University to work up practical proposals on how to define alcoholism, what treatment alcoholics would be required to take and how to judge whether they were taking it seriously."

So there is a government policy in the offing to coerce people to take treatment for a disease that the government cannot yet define?

What are the chances that the definition of the disease is going to be scientifically objective? This isn't a criticism of the academics who will be charged with the task rather it is an allusion to the way in which this government has treated academics in the past.

Recall the story, "Jacqui Smith slaps down drugs adviser for comparing ecstasy to horse riding". The government sought expert opinion; the government got expert opinion; it wasn't to the governments liking.

"Jacqui Smith today hit out at the government's top drugs adviser for suggesting that taking ecstasy was no worse than riding a horse.

The home secretary accused Professor David Nutt of "trivialising" the dangers of drugs and showing "insensitivity to the families of victims" of ecstasy.
"

What if the academics came back to the government and said that the cure for addiction was to build everyone a rat park?

Reference - The Myth of Drug-Induced Addiction

Update - The straight dopamine theory could be up in smoke:

"There is now growing evidence that cannabis use causes a small but reliable increase in the chance of developing psychosis. Traditionally, this was explained by the drug increasing dopamine levels in the brain but a new study shortly to be published in NeuroImage suggests that the active ingredient in cannabis doesn't effect this important neurotransmitter."

2 comments:

  1. This is ignorant comment. Firstly David Nutt made his comments about MDMA in a private capacity. Secondly the ACMD was not unanimous about classification of MDMA. Thirdly it is absolutely reasonable that if alcoholics (or any addicts) seek to dump the medical or social costs of their addiction onto society that society should have a view about that and be prepared to have rules.

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  2. @David - "it is absolutely reasonable that if alcoholics (or any addicts) seek to dump the medical or social costs of their addiction onto society that society should have a view about that and be prepared to have rules."

    Do you think the same about people who have other diseases such as cancer, heart disease, AIDS?

    With respect to AIDS, would it make a difference if the AIDS was contracted either through blood transfusion or intravenous drug use?

    "...David Nutt made his comments about MDMA in a private capacity..."

    But, if an academic has one opinion in private and one in public, doesn't this reinforce my point?

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