Letter to the Editor,
by Peter Provet, Ph.D.
In Reference To The Murky Politics of Mind-Body, The New York Times
To the editor:
Even in a favorable discussion of mental illness, addiction is treated as a stepchild with behavioral problems. Other mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia, increasingly described as brain diseases, are as close as they’ve ever been to securing a place in the insurance reimbursement family alongside the more highly esteemed physical illnesses.
Maybe it’s because the addiction treatment field is its own worst enemy. The loud chorus arguing that addiction is a behavioral and social problem, even a choice, but not a disease, is not doing substance abusers any favors in the race-for-resources parity debate.
The scientific advances that are identifying biological and neurological connections for a host of mental illnesses also include addiction. Addiction incontrovertibly has genetic, biological and chemical determinants that predispose some to its tragic course.
Including addiction with other mental illnesses is a chance to destigmatize a disease that brings pain and suffering to millions of Americans and their families.
President, Odyssey House
New York, April 1, 2008