Is addiction a choice or a disease?

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40 million Americans are struggling
with addiction

When it comes to addiction, it is often regarded as a choice rather than a disease. After years of studies, experts have observed that addiction is a chronic disease, not just a decision. Many factors can play a role in a person developing an addiction, like grief, distress, homelessness, financial constraints, relationship problems, etc. Luckily, there are plenty of options for treating a substance use disorder. 

When you or your loved one is dealing with an addiction, it is crucial to remember the impact words can have on an individual struggling with addiction. The road to recovery is not always an easy one. 

Staying positive and supportive throughout their journey is essential. While it can be difficult to contain your stress and worries about your loved one, thinking about the harmful impact your words can have on their healing can be a motivating factor. 

The Addiction Disease

For years, there has been disagreement over whether addiction is an illness or a conscious decision. The faster that we can end this addiction stigma, the quicker we can learn to understand addiction as a whole and provide the emotional support addicts need. More clarity around this topic will make more people feel comfortable receiving treatment for their condition. 

What is involved in the disease of addiction?

The contentious “brain illness” explanation of addiction is based on the idea that addiction develops gradually, much like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The vast majority of therapies use this tactic as a treatment that is supported significantly by empirical evidence. The illness model of addiction is better understood by those who have attended treatment facilities. 

Addiction To Drugs Can Be Treated

If you or a loved one is addicted to a substance, getting help from a treatment center as soon as possible significantly increases the chances of making a full-fledged recovery. American Psychiatric Association APA no longer uses the word addiction for diagnosis. Instead, terms like substance use disorder are used instead. In the general public, many people believe people struggling with substance abuse do it by their personal choice, but that is a misconception. 

A substance use disorder is a disease with adverse consequences that a person may experience long after recovery. Addiction treatment begins with the initial decision to get professional help and start healing. From a detox under medical care and supervision to medically assisted behavioral therapy. 

Although patterns exist among those with substance use disorders (SUDs) or drug addictions, substance abuse can impact anyone. Drug addiction affects people of all sexes, educational levels, familial circumstances, social statuses, jobs, etc. Over 12 years old, 40 million Americans are struggling with addiction or substance misuse. Addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, and narcotics are all included in the above stats. 

Reasons for Addiction

Regular substance use alters a person’s brain in negative ways. Most medications trigger the body to alter the “feel-good” hormones, including dopamine and serotonin. In particular, the parts of the brain in charge of motivation, reward, and memory experience considerable changes as drug use increases. The person then “needs” larger doses of this drug to feel well and normal again. When a person struggling with addiction takes extended breaks from using the substance, they will experience uncomfortable symptoms, which make it difficult for the individual to quit on their own.

Behavior-related factors

Hereditary risk factors account for around 50 percent of a person’s addiction vulnerability. Other factors involve environmental factors such as how the person grew up. Because of this, addiction is not the result of a single decision, unlike other disorders. These negative attitudes toward the disease, such as thinking it is a choice, is not the proper way to control addiction or chronic illness.

Addicts and alcoholics sometimes have a turbulent history. Young children can suffer terrible consequences due to trauma, grief, bereavement, and alcoholism in the home. Early exposure to this can impact how reward-related molecules work in the brain. An addicted person may already have a broken reward system, providing them with a “stronger high” even before mental illness makes it problematic. Many social factors hinder a person dealing with addiction from seeking effective treatment.

While it is not wise to attempt to force someone to get treatment for their condition, you may encourage them or hold them responsible. Supporting your loved one to the best of your ability without enabling them is crucial in having a healthy attitude towards treatment and achieving a successful long-term recovery.

A substance use disorder is a disease with adverse consequences that a person may experience long after recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is addiction just a matter of choice?

Addiction is a chronic illness rather than a matter of choice. Substances like drugs can significantly impact the brain, resulting in the individual becoming physically dependent. The decision of whether to use a substance or not no longer becomes their choice but a requirement to function.

What is the choice model of addiction?

Choice theory is sometimes associated with therapy treatment, helping patients avoid harmful thoughts and behaviors. These theories believe that all the reason for the addiction is behavior and choice. 

What is the true cause of addiction?

The actual cause of addiction is developing a dependency on a substance where your body requires daily to function normally. Various factors, not just one, can cause this dependency.

Why is addiction not a choice?

Anyone can develop an addiction, no matter who they are. Nobody with an addiction decides to become physically and emotionally dependent on a substance. Most of the time, it is just for fun or to escape emotional troubles. Unfortunately, just one use can cause years of addiction.

Get Help for Addiction at The Haven

At The Haven, we understand how difficult it can be to battle addiction, especially on your own. Our dedicated medical professionals are ready to provide the treatment you need to recover successfully. 

From our proven detox method to our effective therapy sessions led by mental health experts, our premium facility is the best place to receive addiction treatment. We offer residential treatment and outpatient rehabilitation to best match the needs of all our patients. 

After treatment, there are also aftercare plans to help you to remain sober for the long term. Call us today for further information on our services at (561)328-8627.

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