The Fix Q&A with the former President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), Dr. Stuart Gitlow.
How can psychiatry help battle addiction? Do you believe psychiatry is an essential component of addiction treatment?
It depends on how we look at psychiatry. ASAM was not founded by psychiatrists; ASAM was founded largely by internists. In fact, the majority of members of ASAM are not psychiatrists. Despite the fact that I am a psychiatrist from my primary training perspective, I am hard-pressed to look at it as an essential component if only because most people who treat addictive disease are not psychiatrists.
That doesn’t mean they are not using psychiatry. Psychiatry is the study of the mind and addictive disease is based in the mind because the mind is the brain. As a result, psychiatry comes into play. I’m not by any means saying that psychiatry is not an important component of addiction treatment. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to treat an addict. It perhaps is a distinction that may not be necessary to make.
What I’m reading into this question is the following: Is there a psychotherapeutic approach that needs to be utilized in the treatment of addictive disease? The answer to that question is yes. Just as there is a psychotherapeutic approach to help people with eating disorders or high blood pressure or diabetes. We also have to talk to patients about being compliant with their medication or dieting correctly or exercising on a regular basis or getting the right amount of sleep each night. All of that is, at its heart, psychiatry.
Psychiatry comes into play with any chronic life-threatening illness to some extent. Addiction perhaps a little more than others because the disease happens to be brain-based. So I take it back; I said in the beginning that psychiatry is not an essential component of addiction treatment. I actually think it is an essential component. But one doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to carry that out.”
Read more at: http://www.thefix.com/content/talk-dr-stuart-gitlow-psychiatry-addiction
Source: The Fix.com – September 9, 2015