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Rogers is a comprehensive psychiatric hospital, nationally recognized for specialty residential treatment programs for eating disorders, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders for children, teens and adults.

VIDEO: Defining addiction as a chronic disease

The definition of addiction that drives treatment at Rogers Memorial Hospital’s Herrington Recovery Center will be the center of attention of the House of Parliament in London in early May.

Dr. Michael M. Miller, MD, FASAM, FAPA, medical director of the Herrington Recovery Center will summarize the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM’s) definition of addiction for the All-Party Parliamentary Drug Misuse Group of United Kingdom’s House of Parliament.

In this video, Miller explains this ASAM definition and summarizes how treating addiction as a chronic disease reframes the conversation about recovery.

A chronic disease

Miller: Addiction treatment at Rogers respects the complexity of this illness. Addiction is a chronic disease. It has good times and bad times. It has flare ups that can happen quite unexpectedly even after someone has had a span of abstinence and recovery.

The new definition of addiction that the American Society of Addiction Medicine published in 2011 – I actually happened to be chair of the group that developed that definition – It defines addiction as a chronic illness a bio, psycho, social, spiritual condition, there are manifestations of this condition that affect your body, your mind, your feelings, your relationships, and really, your connectedness, your sense of meaning, your sense of worth, your sense of self, your values and how you connect not only with other human beings, but maybe something bigger than human life.

Addiction is somewhat similar to diabetes and asthma in that even with good treatment it can have flare ups. It can come and go. So, what you need is really, chronic disease management over a span of time. Your goal for chronic disease management is: Improve the periods of remission, you want to make them longer, you want to improve the quality of life during periods of remission, you want to decrease the frequency of relapses and decrease the severity of relapses.

Now, those are important goals, and some people would say, well those are lousy goals, you’re accepting that relapse will happen? We don’t want to accept that relapse will happen but we understand that it's part of treating a chronic disease, so what you need to do is have somebody, when they come through a place like Herrington, understand what they’re grappling with. Understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Understand that they have a life ahead of them of recovery and the need for them to attend to their condition and relapse often happens when people get over confident, get blasé, think it’s not that big of a deal, think I have a handle on it, and slip away from their recovery activities.

It may have been Mark Twain who said that stopping drinking is easy, I’ve done it 100 times. And so, abstinence is something that most people, even with significant addiction, can attain for a while. It’s the lasting sustained in recovery that really makes a difference.

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