Addiction is a primary, chronic brain disease, not just bad behavior or bad choices, according to a new definition from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Pain practitioners need to understand the ramifications of addiction — especially involving Rx-opioid use — as a complicating factor in patient care. However, casual use of the term “addiction” or inaccurate diagnosis of the disorder is counterproductive for effective pain management and unjustly stigmatizing to patients.
According to ASAM in a news release [here], when people see compulsive and damaging behaviors in friends or family members — or public figures such as celebrities or politicians — they often focus only on the behaviors or substance use as the problem. However, these outward signs are actually manifestations of an underlying disease that involves various areas of the brain.