By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–A major medical group is urging doctors and policy makers to think differently when it comes to tackling substance abuse.

New recommendations say addiction needs to be looked at like other diseases, instead of blaming addicts for being weak.

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Julio Reyes, 42, has been clean for three years, but his addiction to heroin is still a constant fight.

Now, the American College of Physicians is taking a radical new stance, recommending substance abuse disorders be treated as a chronic medical condition, not a moral failure.

The new guidelines promote treatment for addicts instead of criminalizing their behavior and throwing them in jail.

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“The stigma that’s been associated with this condition over years has led to a lack of treatment options,” said Dr. Andrew Dunn, addiction specialist.

In 2014, the group found only 18 percent of the 22 and a half million Americans with drug or alcohol problems actually received treatment compared to more than 70-percent for hypertension, diabetes and depression.

“When those key players make a statement as comprehensive as this, it makes a big difference,” Dr. Lawrence Brown, CEO of Start Treatment & Recovery Centers.

The new guidelines also recommend a national database to keep track of narcotic prescriptions to limit overuse of painkillers. This would also keep people from what is called “Doctor Shopping,” where they get drugs from different doctors.

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Stephanie Stahl