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Why Can’t Addicts Just Quit?

In most cities across the nation, those with substance abuse disorders have access to treatment, but many still use. Still many places have opened safe-injection facilities for those who just can’t stop. So why can’t they?

There is a negative and pervasive rhetoric about addiction in our country—that it’s a moral failing, that it’s a choice, and that people with substance use disorders are weak, lazy, or simply out for a good time at society’s expense.

But with an estimated 40 million Americans age 12 and over meeting the clinical criteria for addiction1, it’s time to change our perspective.

If, as a collective whole, we begin to emphasize the biological underpinnings of substance use disorders, and understand that addiction impairs the brain in many important ways, it may not only reduce such stigmas, but provide a safe social arena for those who are particularly vulnerable to seek treatment. What’s more, the specific type of brain dysfunction may help identify a range of interventions and preventions that are even more effective in helping individuals attain sustained abstinence. 

What does this mean for overcoming addiction? It is not enough to “just say no.” And, denial among those who do struggle is commonplace.

Drug testing is one way to offer irrefutable proof that help is needed. And if we begin to view current methods like oral fluid testing as a means to provide systems of prevention and accountability that can assist physicians, counselors and individuals through the recovery process—we may save even more lives.

Oral fluid collection is not the only means of testing, yet with the prevalence of abuse, and increase in overdoses throughout the U.S., we are in dire need of testing capabilities that are efficient, reliable—and more importantly, adaptable to our current climate. And for those in recovery seeking to rebuild trust, (oral fluid) testing offers a means by which they can provide objective proof to others that they are successfully moving forward.

At DRUGSCAN, as we work to help mitigate addiction we recognize the fundamental need to promote a sustained healing for individuals, our communities and our nation as the disease of addiction—the opioid epidemic—continues to take a terrible toll on our collective psychology, resources, and lives.

The time is now to address the stigmas, biases, and negative rhetoric surrounding substance abuse. It’s time to recommit—to elevate our expertise, and reshape our approach to both testing and treatment to better adhere to the fragility of the human condition.

1 U.S. News & World Report, “A Blind Eye to Addiction” by Lloyd Sederer; June 1, 2015;

DRUGSCAN is a long-standing toxicology laboratory, and a leading pioneer in the emerging field of Abuse Deterrent Assessments that provides toxicology testing, medication monitoring, drug detection services for employers, DOT-mandated programs, law-enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, substance-abuse rehabilitation facilities, and clinicians.