I went to a premiere of the new HBO addiction series last night and have a few thoughts.
On the positive side:
- A really good segment on the latest in brain imaging. The also used a helpful way of explaining the role of dysfunction in limbic system and the frontal cortex. They described the limbic system as the “go” center of the brain and the frontal cortex as the “stop” center of the brain.
- There was a very powerful segment on insurance parity advocacy efforts in Pennsylvania.
- There was an inspiring segment about a steamfitter labor union local that became self-insured to avoid managed care restrictions on treatment access, developed recovery support groups for members, and developed a strong EAP program to intervene with and support union members.
On the down side:
- It was not as hopeful as I would have liked. The emphasis was on addiction and treatment, rather than recovery. I thought that someone without much knowledge or experience might leave with the impression that recovery is the exception to the rule. I also thought that it presented treatment as the only viable pathway to recovery.
- There was very little diversity. Almost all of the people depicted were white.
- There was a lot of attention to pharmacotherapies and no portrayal of mutual aid groups.
- One expert from a treatment program in Maine stated that 90% of opiate addicts are unable to achieve recovery without drug maintenance therapy. He went on to state that buprenorphine may be effective for people who are mildly addicted or only addicted to prescription medication, but that injection opiate addicts require methadone maintenance.
It was definitely worth seeing. My impression is that this 90 minute episode will air on March 15th and thirteen shorter episodes will follow. Hopefully the additional episodes will address some of the weak points in the first episode.