It's no secret that addiction is a disease. It is primary, progressive, chronic and fatal if not treated. I know this first as a clinician with more than 32 years in the field and second as a researcher of co-occurring disorders and psychiatric substance abuse.
These days, I am very mindful that while we begin 2009 with hope - tremendous uncertainty and fear seems to lurk around the corner. Our safety as a nation is questioned. We are a part of a global village that has to contend with environmental erosion and financial crisis. As a moral people, we have seen our values change - a diminution, if you will, of decency and respect for others. This is not to say that we have gone to hell in a handbag, but we do need to get back to caring a tad more. As Hillary Clinton once said, "it takes a village."
No wonder that first drink or drug is taken to self-medicate! After that, the disease takes over and we are off to an addictive process that spirals down a staircase of pain and suffering biologically, psychologically and socially. As a clinician, I'm keenly aware that human beings are always seeking to self-medicate their anxiety, depression or perhaps guilt or shame.