Addiction and the Stages of Healing, Part 11: “BUT THAT COULD NEVER HAPPEN”

After I developed the ideas presented in this series, I began to talk about them with people in our field, and started to deliver this as a continuing education presentation.  The general response would be validation accompanied with some version of, “But that could never happen.”   The three efforts listed below are my reply to that understandable objection.      

The Framingham Heart Study23 began with examination of its first participant in 1948 and the study continues to the present day.  The study aims to understand the epidemiology and treatment of cardiovascular disease and is built on the premise that this is an endeavor without end.  It has led to many individual studies that have been recursive to the project.  Naturally, the study has expanded the circumference of clinical focus to (later) include genetic and environmental risk factors, as innovation proceeded.  The study has enrolled cohorts of participants across time; these cohorts have included descendants of earlier participants, allowing powerful, family-based approaches in the development of questions and care.

  • The Framingham Heart Study serves for me as the problem side of my thinking about Addiction and the Stages of Healing. That is, it applies to understanding the pathology of addiction, its prevention, and its care (e.g. clinical methods, targets and measures).

The Nurses’ Health Study24 began with a questionnaire in 1976 and the study continues to the present day.  The study has generated “long-term, multi-generational data, including lifestyle- and health-related information across the life course.”  The study is characterized by “…integrative analyses…” and studies that have “…sustained a high level of scientific productivity.”  The work has been centered in an academic environment “…with great strengths in many disciplines, particularly epidemiology, medicine, and biostatistics…” and has retained energy and creativity over time by its involvement of students, maintaining the nature of the research as “fresh”. 

  • The Nurses’ Health Study serves for me as the wellness side of my thinking about Addiction and the Stages of Healing.  That is, it applies to understanding people being well, and better than well (e.g. wellness targets and measures).

The World Parkinson Congress25 is a non-profit international learning collaborative; it started as an idea in 2002 with the question of why such a meeting consisting of all of those touched by Parkinson’s did not exist.  This World Congress involves all stakeholders (persons with Parkinson’s disease, their family members, personal and policy advocates, researchers and academics interested in neuro-degenerative disorders collectively or Parkinson’s specifically, and clinical professionals from all disciplines involved in care of Parkinson’s patients).  The effort includes a world-gathering of all of these groups of people, coming together to share information, advancements, and directions for all involved, and to promote cross-fertilization of ideas and methods (important for addressing a complex multi-variate syndrome).  It continues to the present day. 

  • The World Parkinson Congress for me serves as the awareness, collaboration, advocacy and action side of my thinking about Addiction and the Stages of Healing. 

Addiction and addiction patients deserve all three of these efforts; I would do them as one.


23 Mahood, S. S., Levy, D., Vasan, R. S. & Wang, T. J.  (2014).  The Framingham Heart Study and the Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Diseases: A Historical Perspective.  The Lancet. 383(9921): 999-1008. 

24Bao, Y., Bertoia, M. L., Lenart, E. B., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., Speizer, F. E. & Chavarro, J. E. (2016).  Origin, Methods, and Evolution of the Three Nurses’ Health Studies.  The American Journal of Public Health.  106(9): 1573-1581.

25World Parkinson Coalition: History and Purpose.  Retrieved from the world wide web on 11/26/19 at: https://www.worldpdcoalition.org/page/HistoryMission

In case you missed it, Part 10: IMAGINE THE DAY; WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT NOW is here.