By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drug addiction remains a stubborn problem in the U.S., ruining individuals and families and costing society a bundle. But an author says we’re going about this all wrong.

David Sheff has been to hell in the years his son was addicted and his conclusion, borne out by later research, is that the treatment system is broken.

“We’re treating this as a criminal problem and as a moral problem when, in fact, it’s a health problem. When we shift that, then we begin to shift everything. We are able to talk to our kids in a more effective way, to help them grow up without using drugs and then when people start having problems, we can start helping them instead of throwing them into jail,” he explains.

Sheff sums it all up in Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy.

He says too many people with depression or learning disabilities self-medicate, leading to a world of hurt. He figures we’d all be better off with early, medical intervention, although it does require a sea change in attitudes, not easily done.

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