Chronic Disease Management for SUD

Addiction is a Chronic Disease

Too often substance use disorders are treated like an acute issue instead of a chronic disease in the United States. Movies, TV and commercials often reference “rehab stays” or one month treatment programs that sound like a cure. But unlike a common cold, the flu or pneumonia, addiction does not resolve quickly or just disappear.

A chronic disease or illness is persistent or otherwise long-lasting. While they often don't have a cure, you can live with them and manage their symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are defined as conditions “that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.” Common chronic diseases include heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.

Dr. Richard Saitz explains in the Journal for Addiction Medicine: “Like other chronic diseases (eg, diabetes, congestive heart failure), substance dependence has no cure and is characterized by relapses requiring longitudinal care.”[1]

He adds that “medical and psychiatric comorbidities are the rule rather than the excepti