On April 12, national Drug Czar and recovered alcoholic, Michael Botticelli, was featured in a special broadcast on CBS called, “Faith, Hope, and the Burden of Addiction.” The half-hour presentation included segments explaining the disease of addiction through personal stories and professional feedback.
CBS: Drug Czar Michael Botticelli
Since Michael Botticelli has come forward about being a recovering alcoholic himself, it was a pertinent for him to address addiction in the feature. The special broadcast began by defining addiction: “Addiction is a disease of the human race. It is not a disease that discriminates one walk of life more than another walk of life. All of us are at risk of becoming an addict depending upon what we’re using, when we start using it, what our life circumstances can be.” Viewers were immediately informed that addiction has no face and the disease is not biased; effective treatment requires an approach that could be used on people from any background. David R. Gastfriend, MD, who is CEO of Treatment Research Institute, helped define addiction, saying, “It’s the one disease that disrupts the ability to see whether you have a disease and that’s why [addicts] need help even before they realize they need help.” Addiction is an illness where sufferers may be unable to see how sick they are and addicts can remain in denial.
Reasons for addiction
In the broadcast, it was revealed that according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), 110 people die from a drug overdose every single day. While facts like this are becoming more well-known, the disease of addiction will cause addicts to continue to use, despite negative consequences without proper treatment. This is because addiction is a disease and not a moral dilemma or choice as was once thought.
The real question is: why are some individuals susceptible to addiction and others not? “When an individual who has vulnerability takes drugs, they get a reward, pleasure, euphoria from them that is excessive,” Gastfriend explained in the special broadcast. “Once they get into that pattern, it becomes compelling, compulsive, and when we say addictive, it dominates. It’s behavior. They have a feeling, they can’t live without it.” Addiction professionals like Gastfriend claim addicts become hooked for many reasons, which can include genetic and environmental factors.
There was discussion about how when one major issue like the prescription medication epidemic loses momentum, another matter can grow in its place. It can push addicts to resort to street drugs like heroin, creating another type of problem– a heroin epidemic. The presentation stated how the CDC found that 8,200 people died during 2013 in America as a result of a heroin overdose.
Powerlessness over drugs
“[My son] was a 23-year-old who simply had the perception of his own capacity that he could do this – he could fix [his addiction] on his own without going to treatment,” explained Reverend Richard Cizik during the broadcast, who lost his son Richie to a heroin overdose. “More over, he was worried about what treatment might mean. Would it go on his public record? Could he get a government job? There were all these impediments. I said it doesn’t matter. You have to do this.” After 6 weeks of treatment, Cizik’s son Richie came home for Thanksgiving. Cizik claims his son appeared both physically and spiritually changed. However, his son relapsed and died. Cizik said he would’ve never allowed him home if he knew it would’ve been lethal. Cizik heeded the warning, “If you’re not up to speed and you have a child, you’re playing with his or her life.” According to the video with Michael Botticelli, there is a 90% chance of a relapse following treatment, which is why effective after-care is a vital component of the recovery process. Treatment is no cure for addiction. Recovery takes continual maintenance for an individual to stay clean and sober.
Michael Botticelli mentioned his own struggle with addiction: “I look back and say it didn’t have to happen that way. I’m one of an estimated 23 million people who’ve gone out to live long productive lives and we want that for everybody and we know that that’s possible for everybody.” An issue mentioned in the presentation was that 1 in 9 individuals believed to meet criteria for a substance use disorder actually seek treatment. Risks for drug addiction are greater than before, and continuing to abuse drugs only keeps an addict active in addiction. It’s a progressive disease, which means addiction only gets worse as time passes, with consequences and damage piling up for the addict. “Substance use is a disease,” Michael Botticelli said. “It’s not a moral failing. It’s not a criminal justice issue, so all of our policy is shaped by that standing that arresting and incarcerating people does little to change their trajectory and change their addiction and we also have a growing armamentarium of what we know as an effective prevention, intervention, and treatment services.”
Are you suffering from an addiction alcohol and/or drugs? Contact The Watershed for help today. There is hope to recover. Call now and walk free from addiction. 1-800-861-1768.Tags: Addiction, broadcast, drug addiction, drug treatment, HOPE, Recovery, Recovery Blogs, television