Is Addiction a Disease?

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Addiction is as complex as its sufferers. There are various conflicting views about its cause and effect. Some says that addiction is a disease, whereas others vehemently believe that addiction is just a series of bad decisions. Let’s outline the two sides of the addiction etiology.

The first group believes that addiction is not a disease

  • Addiction becomes an excuse if it is labelled as simply a disease. Labeling addiction as such places less blame on the addicted person. Having a disease is like acquiring anything in random, without making a conscious decision. This disease notion is a favorite of addicts in denial. Labeling addiction as a disease is a good way to dodge responsibility about making bad choices and to blame the addiction to someone or something else.
  • Addiction is a choice. Addicts get to the point of no return wherein they feel as though they are no longer in control of their body and mind. Once addiction has established its deathly grip, it will no longer be the person controlling his desire but the drug controlling the person. The person will now be so consumed like a cancer patient who have succumbed to his diagnosis. The presence of common signs and symptoms makes it appear as a disease, yet it is the denial and continuous self-destruction that separates it from a biological disease.

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  • Unlike those afflicted with a disease, addicts have a choice to stop and to reverse the harm that their vice have caused. Addicts choose to continue their destructive behavior because of the feeling of reward that they get with every hit. This reward feels so good that they are willing to risk their lives, their career and their relationships just to get their fix. They can disregard everything and go to unspeakable feats just to get another hit. It seems more like a sickness and a psychological problem because they go to such horrible lengths, and what’s more, there is nobody forcing them to do so.
  • Addiction is a group of behaviors and has less in common with diseases. Calling addiction as an illness or a disease seems like seeing it halfway. The effects is just half of the picture, the side that must matter is the reason behind this addiction. It seems like addictive behavior is just the symptom, not the disease per se.
  • Addiction is a compulsion, not unlike those of obsessive compulsive disorder sufferers. As compared to a common disease, the addictive substance comes from the outside and is taken willingly by the person. It is more like getting sick by choice. Addiction is not a problem of a body system or of an organ, rather it is a problem of the person as a whole.

The second group categorizes addiction as a disease

  • In the old days, addicted people are regarded as diseased, with deficiencies in character and lack of will. People then are tolerant of addicts, because they weren’t bad, they were just sick. This is a good way for addicts to acquire emotional support and to prevent criticism. People are less judgmental because addicts are seen then as simply unlucky people.
  • Some people regards addiction as a brain disease because it changes the brain permanently. Repeated drug use totally rewires the brain, something that is unique with addicts and shall never be replicated thru other ways.

One must open his mind to understand addiction. Describing addiction as simply a disease of the brain is misleading. Unlike disease, addiction began as a conscious choice. What must be understood is that addicts initially took the addictive substance not because they want to get hooked permanently but because they need immediate relief. The root cause of an individual’s distress must be the focus. It matters not whether addiction is a disease or a just a symptom, what’s important is to see and treat the individual as a person.

Do you or a loved one suffer from an addiction? It’s important that you receive the help needed. Start the process today.


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