Congratulations to AJN for being the first nursing journal to institute a regular department on care of the addicted patient [Substance Abuse, p. 15 this issue]. Substance abuse is recognized as a major health care problem, but ironically it is seldom approached as a health care issue. Rather, we tend to follow the lead of the media and government agencies in regarding the disease as a crime and the patients as unworthy or irresponsible people.
This column helps us as nurses focus on the fact that addiction means a bad disease, not bad people. The column emphasizes care for the individual and reminds us that, as always, our responsibility is to provide the best possible quality of health care to all patients.
It is also my hope that this column will help nurses begin to understand the difference between addiction and pain control, an area of confusion that often results in patients with pain being denied opioids.
Margo McCaffery, RN, MS, FAAN
Los Angeles, CA
Editors' note: Ms. McCaffery is a pain consultant and researcher who has published extensively on the subject and has contributed to AJN's Pain Control'department.