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Treatment for Alcohol & Substance Use Disorders - A Training Resource

By Jim Messina, Ph.D., CCMHC, NCC, DCMHS-T

October 22, 2019
American Society of Addiction Medicine Releases New Definition of Addiction to Advance Greater Understanding of the Complex, Chronic Disease
Incomplete Understanding of Addiction has Prevented an Adequate Response from the Medical Community, the Criminal Justice System and Policymakers in Addressing Prevention, Treatment, Remission, and Recovery and Reducing Overdose Deaths

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) – the nation’s largest organization representing medical professionals who specialize in addiction prevention and treatment – has updated the society’s definition of addiction to explain more fully the complexity of this chronic disease with the intent of driving a bold and comprehensive national response that creates a future when addiction prevention, treatment, remission and recovery are accessible to all, and profoundly improve the health of all people. The release of the updated definition of addiction coincides with National Addiction Treatment Week, which is recognized from October 21–27, 2019. In commentary published in Medium Today, the president and vice president of ASAM, Drs. Paul Earley and Yngvild Olsen respectively, note the updated definition “underscores the complex interplay of unique biological, psychological, and environmental conditions that have a role in any one individual’s addiction.” Moreover, the two assert that a better understanding of addiction “… may lead us to bolder policy interventions that save and improve more lives. Ultimately, public perception and public policy must reflect this nuanced understanding if our nation is to recover.”

The updated definition reads:

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.

About ASAM: The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), founded in 1954, is a professional medical society representing over 6,000 physicians, clinicians and associated professionals in the field of addiction medicine. ASAM is dedicated to increasing access and improving the quality of addiction treatment, educating physicians and the public, supporting research and prevention, and promoting the appropriate role of physicians in the care of patients with addiction. For more information, visit

I’m Your Disease

I hate meetings. I hate a Higher Power. I hate anyone who has a program. To all who come into contact with me, I wish suffering and I wish death.

Allow me to introduce myself, I am the disease of addiction. Cunning, Baffling and Powerful, that’s me.

I love to catch you with the element of surprise. I love pretending I am your friend and lover. I have given you comfort, have I not? Wasn’t I there when you were Lonely? When you wanted to die, didn’t you call me? I was there.

I love to make you hurt. I love to make you cry. Better yet, I love to make you so numb you neither hurt nor cry. When you can’t feel anything at all: This is true glory.

I will give you instant gratification, and all that I ask of you is long-term suffering. I’ve been there for you always. When things weren’t going right in your life, you invited me. You said you didn’t deserve these good things, and I was the ONLY ONE who would agree with you. Together we were able to DESTROY ALL THINGS GOOD in your life.

People don’t take me seriously. They take strokes seriously, heart attacks seriously, even diabetes they take seriously. Fools that they are, they do not know that without my help many of these things would not be made possible.

I am such a hated disease, and yet I do not come uninvited. You CHOOSE TO HAVE ME. So many have chosen me over REALITY and PEACE.

More than you hate me, I hate all of you who have a Twelve-Step Program, your Meetings, your Higher Power, ALL WEAKEN ME, and I cannot function in the manner I am accustomed to.

Now I must lie here quietly. You don’t see me. BUT I AM GROWING – BIGGER THAN EVER. When you only exist, I may live. When you live, I only exist. BUT I AM HERE … and until we meet again, if we meet … again, I WISH YOU SUFFERING AND DEATH.