Author’s Powerful Message: “Addiction is a Mental Disorder”

Author's Powerful Message: "Addiction is a Mental Disorder"Maia Szalavitz knows the war on drugs firsthand. Back in 1986, she was arrested by police and charged with the possession of almost 2.5 kilos of cocaine. Her drug dealing had her facing 15 years to life, rather than a graduation ceremony at Columbia University.

In her new book, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction,” Szalavitz discusses a new perspective on the war on drugs, why it doesn’t work and the current system of addiction treatment in America.

It all starts with the understanding that addiction, no matter the form, is a mental disorder. Neuroscientists support the idea that those who exude addiction traits continue with their obsessive behavior regardless of what may come of it.

Szalavitz  said, “People use despite their families mad at them, despite losing their jobs and being homes. And yet we think the threat of jail is going to be different? Addiction persists despite negative consequences,”

She is known around the world for her new revolutionary theory, that addiction is a mental disorder. In fact, she exclaimed that, “I want people to understand that addiction is a learning disorder. If you don’t learn that a drug helps you cope or make you feel good, you wouldn’t know what to crave.”

Her new and groundbreaking book immerses readers in the world of an individual who was once an Ivy League scholarship student, turned heroin and cocaine addict and dealer. This path eventually lead her behind bars.

In her memoir, readers realize how addiction is a learning disorder rather than a progressive disorder. If addiction was a progressive disorder, as she mentions, it would be more difficult to recover and the conditions would exponentially get worse. Scientifically, in the event of addiction, it gets easier for individuals to cut addiction by the cord. “I guess that’s where you break with the belief that addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease.”

Through her experiences, she learned that addiction is truly a learning and mental disorder. In that, society itself needs to completely change its perception of treatment and of addiction.

“People who become addicted are wired differently, and it affects the manner in which they learn. We see people with addiction as valueless – literally, pieces of junk,” she continued. “They don’t only bring disadvantages. They can also bring advantages. Sometimes there are blessings hidden inside of curses.”

As a personal story, Szalavitz mentioned that because of her addiction and compulsive tendencies, it caused her to become a great journalist. What needs to occur in society is a change in thought, in order to reach the understanding that with every experience, regardless of the circumstance something can be learned from it.  

Understanding the truth of Szalavitz’s revolutionary belief could get the tough-love treatment removed from the system, forever. To solve the problem, she agrees with Donald Trump in changing the approach towards drug use and prescription.

“We should decriminalize all drug possession, legalize marijuana, and use the money we save to find evidence-based treatment.” Szalavitz claimed, “People have to be alive to recover.”

n light of this, the more recognition that addiction is a mental and learning disorder, the closer society is getting to acknowledging the proper way to allow and assist those suffering and learning.


Did You Know an Addiction Can be Caused by a Mental Disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.