Families are taking a growing role in the recovery of people in treatment for substance addictions, and a leading researcher said Thursday that recovery strategies are just as important for the family as a whole as for the addict.
Dr. Robert Ackerman talked about the impact of opioid addiction on families Thursday at an annual workshop on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus. The session was part of the weeklong Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute summer conference, an organization that Ackerman established during his 28 years as a professor of sociology at IUP.
Challenges to recovery from drug addition have grown in recent decades because of a growing acceptance of narcotics use, fostering an atmosphere of denial because the drugs are legal and prescribed, he said.
“The American Medical Association in the late 1980s and ’90s added a fifth vital sign that needs to be assessed in patients — pain,” Ackerman said. “Is you patient in pain? And what they are telling physicians is do not allow your patients to remain in pain. You need to address the pain.”
That’s a fundamental part of the growth in the trend toward addiction, as more pharmaceutical companies developed more opiate-based drugs and as pain management clinics began to emerge.
And Ackerman said AMA research published in 1980, showing a 1 percent rate of addiction among painkiller patients, helped pave the way to the spiraling growth.
“All of a sudden now what we’re trying to do is crack down, on the source and the supply,” he said. “The other thing is the futility. The futility right now is incredible throughout the country. We don’t have a national sense of just how dangerous this is, and we don’t have a national response. The governors of 23 states have declared a state of emergency in their states.
“The other thing is that…