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Contempo 1999
October 13, 1999

Science-Based Views of Drug Addiction and Its Treatment

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.


Edited by Thomas C. Jefferson, MD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(14):1314-1316. doi:10.1001/jama.282.14.1314

More than two thirds of people with addiction see a primary care or urgent care physician every 6 months, and many others are regularly seen by other medical specialists.1,2 These physicians are therefore in a prime position to help patients who may have drug abuse problems by recognizing and diagnosing the addiction, helping to direct patients to a program that can meet their treatment needs, and helping to monitor progress after specialty treatment and during recovery.3-6 Many physicians, however, find the domain of drug abuse particularly daunting and often avoid the issue with their patients. This is understandable given the relatively short shrift drug abuse is given in formal medical education. There is a widespread misperception that drug abuse treatment is not effective, which may account for the reluctance of physicians to even broach the subject of drug abuse or treatment with their patients.