HealthIs Addiction a Disease? A Complete Guide to Understanding...

Is Addiction a Disease? A Complete Guide to Understanding Addiction


Some people imagine that substance abuse is a rare problem that only a minority of people struggle with. However, surveys show that more than a fifth of the entire United States population uses illicit drugs in a given year. On top of that, more than 9 million people above the age of 12 misused opioids in the past year.

As new kinds of addiction become more common, many people wonder whether addiction is a disease or a choice. When some people think about addiction, disease symptoms are the first things to come to mind. On the other hand, others focus more on the ways in which addictions resemble choices.

At the end of the day, there is a good reason that the debate rages on about whether or not it makes more sense to think of addictions as diseases or choices. In this article, we will discuss the nature of addiction and the perspectives that people have on it. So is addiction a disease or a choice or something else?

Read on to learn all about the most vital things to understand about addictions!

Is Addiction a Choice?

When people think that addictions are choices, they are often thinking of some of the traits of addictions that resemble choices. For example, people who abuse substances tend to do so without being forced by any other person.

On top of that, we know that people can overcome addictions in the long run. When they do, it can seem clear that they are making choices to stop misusing substances. For many people, these points seem like enough to prove that addiction is a choice.

However, this often leads people to tell those struggling with addiction that they should just stop. They might also blame them if they ever abuse a substance again for choosing to do so. However, this is often unhelpful.

People struggling with addictions may be able to overcome them in the end, but that does not mean that it is as simple as choosing in a specific moment to do so. There is more to the story that we need to understand.

Is Addiction a Disease?

In other ways, addiction does look more like a brain disease. For example, scientists have discovered that people with addictions have specific structures in their brains. We know that people with addictions suffer pain, discomfort, cravings, and more when they avoid indulging in their addictions.

The more that people use certain substances, the stronger become the pathways in their brains that pressure them to continue to do so again and again in the future.

On top of that, people with substance abuse problems often have to go through extensive treatment to overcome their addictions. All of these points seem to suggest that addiction is more like a disease than a choice.

So who is right? At the end of the day, there is a reason that this debate continues to go on and on. The reason is that there are some ways in which addiction resembles a choice and other ways in which it resembles a disease.

Both sides are making correct observations about the nature of addiction. However, the important thing is not to decide forever which word is the correct label to apply to addiction. The important thing is to figure out how best to help people struggling with addictions overcome them and make positive choices.

Based on this understanding, it may sometimes be helpful to remind people of the control that they have over their own choices.

However, in other cases, it might be extremely damaging to pressure someone with an addiction to decide now to never use a substance again and then stick to it. Even if that does not always cause problems, guilting an addicted person for going back to a substance is almost certain to make the addiction recovery process slower and more difficult.

Common Addiction Symptoms

Another reason that it is hard to say whether or not addiction is a choice or a disease is that it is not always clear when something is an addiction at all.

Some people think of addictions as compulsions that we feel that we have to follow. Others talk about how people suffer when they go without certain substances for a long time.

However, these traits belong to things like food, water, air, and sleep as well. It would not make sense to call all of these things addictive on the mere basis that we all need them.

In many cases, we label something an addiction when the person suffering from it says that it is having a negative effect on their life. If someone drinks alcohol regularly but says that it does not have a negative effect on their life, then it may not make sense to call it an addiction. On the other hand, someone who says that their drinking habit is ruining their life can be said to be suffering from an addiction.

Possible Avenues to Addiction Recovery

Sometimes, the most important choice someone with an addiction can make is looking for help. These days, you can get amazing help at drug detoxification center options around the country.

Understand the Nuances of Addiction: Disease or Choice

We hope that learning more about addictions has helped you understand the ways in which it resembles a disease and the ways in which it resembles a choice. When some people think about addiction, disease symptoms come to mind first. Understanding the complete picture of addiction can help people support others through the addiction recovery process regardless of the exact word used to describe addiction.

To learn more about the latest information in addictions, finance, and more, take a look at our other articles!


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