Decades of 12-step programs have set the standard for addiction treatment, but now doctors and scientists are trying to give drug and alcohol addicts another option: medication. With some federal support, these experts are adding to drugs already in use—like methadone for heroin addiction—by telling doctors about medications that could treat addiction like any other disease. What's more, years of studies support the notion that addiction is a brain-chemical problem that persists even after addicts stop using, the LA Times reports.
Also, drugs designed to help addicts handle their recovery have fared well in testing. But many treatment centers in the US aren't interested, and John Schwarzlose, president of the Betty Ford Center, has criticized the medical approach for failing to address personal issues such lifestyle and spirituality. A doctor who promotes the medical path, however, says drugs are only intended to add to other treatments. "Addiction is a very aggressive disease," she says. "We need to treat it aggressively. We do that for other diseases."