Pubdate: Wed, 18 May 2011
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2011 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Perry Kendall


This matter is far more complex than Margaret Wente makes out. Indeed,
the logic she uses to de-medicalize addiction could be used to
position adult-onset diabetes as a matter of choice (lifestyle) and
not an illness.

As the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse states: "Addiction is ...
considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain - they
change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long
lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviours seen in people who
abuse drugs."

It is apparent that the high degree of co-morbidity (co-occurrence in
the same individual) of mental illness and substance dependence is
because these problems are linked through shared neurologic or
behavioural abnormalities and may have a shared biologic basis. This
understanding underlies the critical importance of viewing drug
dependence and addictions as health issues with underlying biological
cause. In this context, Insite is clearly as much a part of a
health-care system as is an outpatient diabetic-education centre.

Perry Kendall, provincial health officer, Victoria 
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