The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) recently passed legislation to recognize addiction as a disease and change the names of two national institutes. Senate Bill 1011, the Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act of 2007, was introduced by Senator Biden (D-DE) with original co-sponsors Senator Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Enzi (R-WY).
The bill proposes to change the name of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction. The name of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is proposed to change to the National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health. According to the bill, the Congress made the following findings:
- (1) Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain’s structure and manner in which it functions. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. The disease of addiction affects both brain and behavior, and scientists have identified many of the biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of the disease.
- (2) The pejorative term `abuse’ used in connection with diseases of addiction has the adverse effect of increasing social stigma and personal shame, both of which are so often barriers to an individual’s decision to seek treatment.
Congressman Kennedy (D-RI) and Congressman Sullivan (R-OK) introduced a similar bill, H.R. 1348 (NIDA and NIAAA Name Redesignation Act), in the House as well.