Addiction begins with a choice that you make. Because of that, there’s hot debate about whether it should be called a “disease.” The facts aren’t as black-and-white as many people would like them to be.
Addiction is often responsible for the destruction of people and their loved ones. It’s an incredibly difficult thing for anyone to go through, or for anyone to watch their loved one go through. But it doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria necessary to be classified as a “disease.”
Every addiction begins with a choice that you make. You decide whether you will take the substance that you have in front of you. As soon as you decide to try the drug, or to drink too much, you’ve created your own doom.
Some people are even of the opinion that addiction is a “self-inflicted mental illness.” Addiction doesn’t meet the specific criteria required for an affliction to be defined as a disease. Addiction isn’t transmissible, hereditary, traumatic, degenerative, autoimmune, or contagious. The main treatment for addiction is to stop repeating a particular behavior. A true disease will become worse when untreated. Patients with cancer do not become cured if they are locked within a cell, while alcoholics are automatically cured. If you can’t access alcohol, you can’t succumb to alcoholism.
People with schizophrenia won’t remit if they are secluded. If Parkinson disease is left untreated, it will worsen. Sepsis spreads if untreated. A criminal court will not give a verdict that a drunk driver is “not guilty because of mental illness.”
The best definition of addiction is that it’s a maladaptive coping mechanism to deal with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.
If you medicalize addiction, you will not be subject to any advances in management as an individual. Addiction must be treated, but it is a social problem that requires a social intervention, not a medical one.
When people continue referring to addiction as a disease, we’re considering it on par with illnesses like cancer. That isn’t fair. If a person with cancer chooses to be free of their disease, it’s not possible to detox their cancer. Getting off of drugs isn’t easy, even though it may seem so to people who have never used them. But the process isn’t comparable to a disease.
You might go through hellish physical withdrawals, depending on the drug. Alcoholics can even die from withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, it is important that detox in the first stages be done under medical supervision.
Drugs and other substances to change the way your body acts. Your body becomes dependent on them. When you take away the drug that your body is dependent on, you can experience a wide range of illness-related symptoms.
It’s also worth noting that addiction is treated like a mental illness. Rehabilitation facilities offer a range of therapies, including individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and creative therapies. They encourage mindfulness and connecting with nature. They use CBT techniques and help people learn better coping mechanisms for their mental illness.
What do you think? Is addiction a choice, or a disease?