Skip to main content

There is considerable dispute over addiction as a choice versus a disease. Although a case can be made for either side, here we will consider the medical facts to figure out the question, is addiction a disease?

Is Addiction a Disease? The Scientific Community Reacts

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has a lengthy and brief version of how to identify addiction. A short definition per their Policy Statement is:

” Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

Explained in brief, ASAM says addiction is a disease.

Additional organizations in the community concur with this position. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Institute of Medicine, and the World Health Organization acknowledge addiction is uncontrollable and reveals that obsessive substance abuse despite negative consequences, is the definition of addiction.

Is Addiction a Disease? Check Out the Brain

Medical research reveals that addiction is a brain disease that cultivates gradually. While addiction begins with willful substance abuse with prescription medication or recreational drug use, it becomes a disorder of the brain.

Drugs alter a person’s state of mind, memory, perceptions, and emotional state in the short-term. Gradually, the drug transforms the brain’s physical structure and function, producing powerful cravings for the drug. In some cases, the brain will no longer behave ordinarily without the drug. Some individuals suggest it’s a case of learning failed. The individual has taught dependence on drugs through use of drugs. While this coheres on one level, this learned behavior is not quickly unlearned and is characteristic of numerous diseases.

Is Addiction a Disease? Check Out Comparable Brain Diseases

Brain diseases are complicated and reveal social and behavioral elements, just as those battling with addictions do too.

  • Alzheimer’s is a disease impacting the front temporal region of the brain. Similar to those dealing with addictions, Dementia patient’s initially show signs of disruption in behavioral and social connections.
  • Schizophrenia is another disease of the brain where more function in some regions of the brain is shown and less activity is displayed in those that are active in a typical brain. These individuals experience hallucination, delusions, and paranoia. Some individuals battling with addictions show the same signs.
  • Clinical depression is an additional brain disorder that displays symptoms like addiction. Those experiencing clinical depression frequently report lack of enjoyment in functions or people, significant weight reduction, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, feeling vacant and unhappy, and reoccurring considerations of suicide. These indicators are also identified in men and women abusing drugs.
  • Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder where neurons have deteriorated and died. These neurons control dopamine and without them manifestations of tremors and decreased motility will occur, similar to withdrawal from drug abuse. It is reported that specific toxins can enhance onset of the disease. One such toxin is the drug meth. Individuals who used amphetamines and methamphetamines are 76% more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease.

Brain diseases are not merely biological in nature. They impact the behavioral and social connections of an individual. Since a person fighting with addiction is not observed until the addiction is plain to others, who is to say the disease was not actually present in the brain, waiting to be observed?

Is Addiction a Disease? External Elements

Several diseases result from a person’s environment and decisions, much like addiction. A person who consumes too many salty meals and drinks alcohol may cultivate hypertension. While this might be considered a complication of food addiction, typically hypertension is only managed by the medical community as a biological disease. The same can be said of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arteriosclerosis. Even a few forms of cancer are also affected by one’s diet and physical activity, or lack thereof.

A number of our eating and exercise routines are picked up from our environment: family members, friends, and peers. And, similar to addiction, a lot of the diseases discussed can be turned around through discovering new responses to stimuli in the environment. Individuals battling with cardiovascular disease discover how to eat foods to heal the heart. Those fighting with addiction learn how to eat meals that heal the brain. Both groups discover how to incorporate exercise to reinforce the body and discharge regular levels of dopamine.

Is Addiction a Disease? Hereditary Elements

It is approximated that a person’s genes can determine a person’s weakness to addiction up to 60 percent. But once more, a person’s environment will determine if the gene’s that affect addiction will be activated. Other medical problems such as mental disorders will also alter if the genes causing addictive behavior will be triggered. Research studies seem to show that teenagers and those battling with mental illness are at higher threat for addictive behaviors.

Is Addiction a Disease? Does the Solution Matter?

Yes, scientific investigation into how drugs impact the brain is essential so we can affect and transform the addiction cycle. But when the country debates if addiction is a disease, many individuals just need to obtain professional recovery care. Possibly the time and resources invested in the debate should go to assisting those in need. Despite one’s position, men and women with addictive behaviors need assistance.

Ways to Get Help for Addiction

The initial step in getting assistance is accepting you have a complication with substance abuse. When one see’s he or she is using a substance even when experiencing unfavorable repercussions and wanting to stop, it is time to receive help.

Talk to your physician and seek help. Your doctor can examine your symptoms and help you choose if rehab is the most effective option. If you cannot talk with your doctor, call a helpline at (561)-770-6616. Addiction specialists will help you find the right detox program for your symptoms.

After detox, you will need to find addiction treatment that can help you keep clean and sober. Cognitive behavioral therapy, individual therapy, and group therapy are a suitable place to begin. Other therapies such as yoga, nutritional therapy, art and music therapy, and mild exercise will help maintain your body throughout this change back to well-balanced everyday living.

Once rehab is finished, you will need a constant care plan in place that can help you stay sober. Support groups and alternative therapies can help reinforce one’s willpower to stay sober.

Ready to Receive Help for Addiction?

While much documentation upholds addiction as a brain disease, the argument of is addiction a disease will continue to rage. Don’t let the dispute shame you into evading help. Get the assistance you need now by calling Northlake Recovery at (561)-770-6616. Addiction experts are standing by to help you make the choice of sobriety. Get Help Now!

Leave a Reply