Addiction is a Disease, Not a ChoiceMarch 6, 2017
To this day, the disease of addiction is largely misunderstood and stigmatized by a large population of people – including those who have family members and friends who suffer from addiction. There are still those who genuinely believe that addiction is a choice. Because people made the initial choice to use drugs and continue abusing them, then an individual must choose to be an addict. Right? Below, we explain the differences between drug use and addiction, addiction and dependence and why addiction is a disease of the brain.
Does an Individual Choose Drug Addiction?
Not once has anyone muttered the expression, “when I grow up, I want to be an addict”. The reason is simple – addiction is not a choice. Sure, the initial decision to try or use drugs is a choice. But addiction is the resulting disease of those with a genetic predisposition using a particular substance that touches the pleasure center of the brain a certain way.
Addiction Vs. Drug Use
Man individuals mistake the disease of addiction with the actual act and choice of drug use. Addiction is not an action and therefore, it’s not a choice. Instead, addiction can be defined as a ubiquitous connection and cognitive compulsion making ongoing drug use so compelling that it feels impossible to stop. Addiction results in chemical and structural changes to the brain, changing both cognitive thought and behavior. Addicts exhibit certain behaviors that put the “object of addiction” or their drug of choice on a pedestal. People around the addict become either obstacles that stand in the way or tools to be used in obtaining or using their drug of choice. And while the cravings and urges in the brain make resisting incredibly difficult, whether or not to feed or starve the disease of addiction is still a choice.
Addiction Vs. Dependence
People also confuse the disease of addiction with chemical dependence. Often, they go hand in hand but they are still uniquely distinct. We’ve already defined addiction. But chemical dependence is the body’s physical reliance on a substance so much so that without it, the body would go through painful withdrawals. As if overcoming cravings associated with addiction isn’t hard enough, chemical dependence often adds to the compulsion in order to avoid going through painstaking withdrawals and sickness.
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Written and Published by William, Kill The Heroin Epidemic Nationwide, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)