Pubdate: Thu, 17 Jul 2003
Source: Appalachian News-Express (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Appalachian News-Express
Author: Loretta Blackburn


"If it's a disease, let's treat it like a disease," said Dr. Gregory
Lamar Jones, about the only disease the American Medical Association
had to vote on to determine it as such.

The AMA named alcoholism as a disease in 1956 after deliberating and
voting on the issue. Since then, the disease has been linked to other
substances and has emerged in all socio-economic, racial, ethnic and
age groups. Today it is known in the treatment world as addiction.

"I'm not here to treat drug addiction, I'm here to treat addiction,"
said Jones, who will be directing the Pikeville Methodist Hospital
Medical Detox Unit.

He emphasized the irrelevance of the substance in addressing the
disease, saying a person who can't use one can't use another. He said
this was one of the "great myths" he hoped to dispel by educating the
community.  "The brain don't know the difference," said Jones, who is
one of approximately 3,000 certified addiction specialists worldwide.

Raised in Georgia, Jones became interested in science in the eighth
grade, when he had already grown to 6-foot-4, which ended his dreams
of becoming an astronaut. He received a medical degree from the
Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, in 1980 and went on to work as a
physician in Alabama and a professor at the University of Alabama,
starting a solo practice in Anniston, Ala., in 1992. He begin
practicing medicine in Paducah in 1996 at Lourdes Hospital and then at
Ephraim McDowell Health, Danville, in 1998.

Jones said his personal experience with people involved in recovery
from addiction and the encouragement of a friend, Dr. Burns Brady,
motivated him to specialize in treating the disease. The original plan
was to complete his fellowship at Willingway in Statesboro, Ga., and
then return to Louisville, where he would take over Brady's position
as medical director for Kentucky Physicians Health, said Jones.

Although he wanted to stay in Kentucky, Brady's position was more
administrative than hands-on said Jones, and he was more inclined to
working with patients and their families to teach them what he knew.
Hence, he was happy when he learned of the position available at
Pikeville Methodist.

While the direct causes of addiction are yet to be defined, there are
a lot of contributors said Jones.

"But you don't have to know the cause," said Jones.

Jones then quoted Dr. John Mooney, the founder of Willingway, "When
the ox cart is in the ditch, it don't matter how it got there. You
just get it out."

Detoxification is the first phase of the treatment process involved in
getting addicts into recovery said Jones. He said a treatment plan
that got them involved in a 12-step program was the most successful
avenue for maintaining sobriety once a person is free of the drugs.
Having the support needed to look at the reality of life and accept
change is the key to long-term sobriety, said Jones.

Jones said the goal he hoped to reach as director of the first detox
unit in Eastern Kentucky is to make it possible for people recovering
to get everything they need here in the area.

"We want to let the recovery community grow with us," said

While an Al-Anon group has started in the area, Jones said he hoped to
see more of them as the family often needed treatment along with the

"I believe in treating the patient and their family," said

When addressing the part community would play in dealing with the
problem, Jones said he noticed the desire to help in members of
various organizations and is confident they are getting the "pieces"
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