Addiction can be an overwhelming force, and the statistics it produces are daunting and dismaying.
A 2012 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia) reveals that addiction and risky use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs account for the largest preventable and most costly health problems facing the country – responsible for more than 20 percent of deaths in the United States, causing or contributing to more than 70 other conditions requiring medical care, and accounting for one-third of all hospital inpatient costs. The report also states that while 16 percent of the U.S. population suffers from addiction, 90 percent of them get no treatment at all.
Substance addictions are huge problems, but behaviors can also become addictions. Eating, gambling, internet use and a myriad of other activities can all become compulsive. The roots of addiction can be physical, psychological, or a combination of factors.
The problem addiction presents is complex and expansive, and we need a multifaceted and unified response to meet the challenge. For this reason, the College of Medicine is bringing its entire arsenal to bear – the four pillars of the UTHSC mission.
On the education front, we’re training new recruits – preparing the next generation of physicians to treat dependency in an environment where addiction is no longer the sole domain of psychiatry, and hospitalization isn’t the only path.
On the clinical care front, we’re growing our army. We’re enlisting other disciplines – family medicine, general internal medicine, emergency medicine, and anesthesia – to work together with psychiatry to combat the power of addiction.
On the research front, we’re calling upon our veterans to organize existing “pockets of expertise,” and in the process, bring in new resources to aid us in the conflict.
On the public service front, we’re organizing our troops – serving as the hub of a team effort to assure that all community resources are being utilized to help at-risk youth who are in danger of being harmed rather than helped by the justice system.
It’s only through innovation, inspiration and collaboration that we can carry out our mission to confront the power of addiction.