Is addiction a disease?
Well, addiction can be classified as a disease, a disease that is not only destroying the lives of the addicted but those around them. Whether it is alcohol or opioids such as painkillers or heroin, there are so many victims. A lot of people mistakenly think that this condition is a choice.
There are a lot of factors that go into this sickness, today we will be going over them and hopefully, we will be able to and give anyone who reads this article a better understanding of addiction as a disease.
Addiction is a disease
“But, they chose to start using…”, a statement often made by people who believe addiction is a choice and not a disease. Sure, they may have decided to start using, they may have picked up that first drink or drug. But, what about those that were injured and prescribed painkillers? Opiate addiction is strong and common, and it is not nearly as “recreational” as the average person may believe. People become dependent on medication, so they can continue to live without pain, using the drug only as much as the doctor had prescribed. But with continued use, comes dependence and then abuse, and the person who was struggling with medicating for the pain now has unknowingly become dependent on the opioids. Opioids are legal prescription medications, they are essentially synthetic heroin and are extremely powerful and addictive.
Think about people with diabetes or cancer. If they ended up with diabetes later in life, this could have been on them. They could have not eaten well enough, not taken care of themselves. Same goes for cancer. People can get lung or throat cancer from smoking cigarettes. Do we just not treat them? Do we scoff at them and degrade them for having these diseases? No. We don’t. We feel sorry for them and wish them well. We may even be able to sympathize with them. What makes it different with drug abuse? The bigger picture is still the same, they’re sick.
How is Addiction a Disease, Why is Addiction a Disease?
There are a lot of psychological reasons one can end up living like this. For those that have “chosen” to start a life like this, it’s hardly because they are mentally healthy. Self-medicating becomes a coping mechanism for people that have not had easy lives, cannot find peace in their minds, and so on. They may even be prone to it simply because their parents were addicts themselves.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, states that according to some studies a person genetic influences on becoming an addict can be as high as 60%. These are physiological factors of chemistry in the brain that causes someone to be prone to becoming addicted to drugs, and there is nothing they can do about it – it is not a choice, and it is not something they can control.
It’s not always about simply picking up the drug and enjoying the experience. It’s about finding peace within themselves. Painkillers can do that for people.
The Nuances of Addiction as a Disease
Now, this coping mechanism is definitely negative, it doesn’t help in the long run and it could potentially be fatal. The negative pressures from people that simply do not understand can add cruelty to the afflicted’s life. This could make them go deeper into their own sickness. What kind of life is that? That’s a life without support.
If we do not tear down people with other serious diseases, why do we tear drug users down? Why don’t we see that they need our help, not our criticism? There’s no doubt that it is difficult to work through. This applies to both the afflicted and the people around them. But, awareness and support through understanding without enabling them can be the difference they need. They need to be able to see that they have a reason to get healthy and stay healthy. Sometimes it needs to be something outside of themselves.
We’re here to help…
Whether treatment is for you, a family member or a friend, we are happy to speak with you about our outpatient drug treatment program, and how AOC can help patients with their opioid addiction recovery. Since 2007, AOC has helped thousands of patients on their path to recovery.