“Ever heard of a diabetic patient who ate a large muffin before having a blood glucose test, was scolded for giving in to temptation, and then told to just say no to carbs?
That kind of response is all too familiar for patients whose brains have been altered by heroin or other opiates.
“We blame patients for their disease,” says Dr. Sarah Wakeman. “We also kick people out of treatment for having symptoms of their disease with addiction, which would honestly be malpractice if we did that with other conditions.”
Wakeman runs the Substance Use Disorders Initiative at Massachusetts General Hospital, where treating addiction as a chronic condition, like diabetes or asthma or high blood pressure, is the norm.
Patients are screened using questions that determine if they are at risk for addiction. There’s an assessment. Then Wakeman and her patients work on lifestyle changes, decide what medication will help break the addiction, and meet frequently to monitor progress.
Source: Commonhealth.WBUR.org – September 9, 2015