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January 24/31, 2001

Drug Dependence as a Chronic Medical Illness

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;285(4):409. doi:10.1001/jama.285.4.407

To the Editor: Dr McLellan and colleagues1 state that drug addiction should be treated as a chronic medical disease. This contradicts our experiences as a sheriff (L.A.) and an emergency department physician (D.L.S.) who regularly encounter patients who provide false histories concerning trauma or pain syndromes, insist on narcotic analgesics, and vigorously refuse nonnarcotic analgesics or follow-up with an office-based physician. Our experience has been that the overwhelming majority of such patients will not agree to enter a drug rehabilitation program or to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.