Squeezing the treatment gap of addiction

A current initiative, Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG), is a national program designed to create awareness to increase resources in order to close the treatment gap. The treatment gap is the number of Americans who need treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction but are unable to receive it due to a lack of financial resources. According to their website for the Open Society Institute (Soros.org), there are currently 4 out of 5, or over nine million, Americans who need treatment but are unable to get it. These statistics show that addiction is more prevalent than coronary heart disease and stroke and as prevalent as cancer. The institute seeks to expand public support by increasing public funding, creating insurance plans that cover treatment, and achieving program efficiency to treat individuals quickly using existing resources. As Melissa mentioned during class, the cost of addiction on society carries of burden of $69 billion dollars in lost productivity and $12 billion in health care costs. Furthermore, 25% of AIDS cases result from injected drug use. Think about this. If every individual, regardless of monetary resources, were able to seek appropriate treatment, those costs would decrease and the nation could use that money help people at poverty levels and help educate society. There would be significant long-term beneficial effects on society if we were to treat those individuals that may be predisposed to addiction. Thus, we could not prevent addiction from occurring until further scientific research is done to locate the exact regions and genes involved in addiction, however, in the mean time, program initiatives could be put in place to subsidize the costs of treatment and insurance plans could cover these costs. The money that would subsidize these extra costs would be the money that would be saved from the cost of addiction.
Currently, there are many different paths of treatment, which include outpatient drug free programs for counseling, inpatient rehabilitation programs based on self-help programs, and therapeutic communities that act as a retreat for individuals to go to seek treatment. However, people without insurance have limited access to the even the most basic counseling treatments, and therefore, both severe personal and societal consequences ensue. By closing this gap between those who can financially be treated and those who cannot afford it, we can minimize the pain for the individual, their families, and society.
It is unfortunate that individuals who suffer from both addiction and poverty cannot get the help they need; they do not have the financial resources, they are undereducated, may live in an environment where drug use is prevalent because they are not able to afford other living situations. This perpetuates the problem and often these individuals do not seek help both because they do not have the financial resources and they do not have the drive to get better.
Clearly, something needs to be done. And as seen here, there are many initiatives working towards closing this treatment gap so that all who need it can seek treatment without the financial burden. Squeezing this gap goes hand in hand with saving lives, reducing crime, and rebuilding communities to end the even higher costs of addiction.

One thought on “Squeezing the treatment gap of addiction

  1. This post made me think a lot about addiction in a cultural context. It is interesting how far individuals will go to fuel their addictions. Some addicts are wealthy and don’t worry about where they will get their next fix but some need to work hard and sometimes forgo food to satisfy their desire. Even in poor places such as Haiti they can become addicted to things such as the fumes from glue. They will work all day to make enough money to buy a little bread and some of this glue. It is by far the cheapest way to feel the high. An additional plus is that it makes the children feel less hungry. It is so sad that these children become addicted at such a young age and make it a habit to value drugs over food.


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