Addiction is a Disease, Whether You Like it or NOT

Addiction is a Disease, Whether You Like it or NOT

The Internet is a wondrous place where you can post an opinion and eventually someone will come along and tell you that you’re wrong.

Recently, there has been a trend of bloggers that have begun shaming drug addicts for calling their addiction what it is – a disease. You self-proclaimed “experts” in the field of addiction purport that drug addiction is a choice because those in active addiction choose to use, that they can choose to stop with no other supportive effort, as easy as turning on a light. For many of our brethren who are still using, this attitude makes it more difficult to come forward to begin the process of treatment. For you to deny that addiction is a disease and simultaneously shame users for being unable to control themselves is absolutely wrong from both a scientific standpoint and a moral viewpoint.Addiction is a disease, whether you like it or not.

The Oxford Dictionary defines a disease as a“Disorder of function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.”

Diseases are also marked by periods of remission and relapse, and to call a spade a spade, it’s safe to say that we non-using addicts still have a disease.

Addiction is a disorder of the brain and is not exclusive to drugs, or even negative behavior. One can be addicted to food, sex, adrenaline, and even simply have behavioral addiction where they continue to repeat whatever the compulsive behavior is to the detriment of their lives. But like other bodily malfunctions, it doesn’t go away, even when you learn to cope with it. Just like a person with diabetes must monitor their sugar to maintain their health, addicts must monitor their thought patterns and physical cues so that their brain does not fail in its decision making.

We now know that addiction is a disorder in the reward center of the brain. A chemical in your brain called dopamine is transmitted by specific pathways to the reward center in your brain, and you feel good. With addictive behavior, and especially drug use the brain responds to the stimulus by overloading these neuro-circuits with those feel-good chemicals, to which the receptors eventually adjust to receiving it all. Add that to damage to the prefrontal lobes (the impulse control area of your brain) caused by drugs themselves and you’ve got a recipe for a life-threatening illness – especially when speaking on drug addiction. The damage in the impulse control center of your brain makes it that much harder to resist, so what choice is there? There aren’t many choices for those who have not been taught coping skills or suffer from a comorbidity such as PTSD or schizophrenia.

It is time for the internet, and the children of users, and any of the rest of you who don’t understand what it’s like to be out of control to stop shaming drug addicts, especially those in active addiction.  It’s necessary for people to unlearn these reward behaviors to overcome their morbidity or their diseased state. You cannot close the door on them stepping forward because of an uneducated option. You especially will not insult those of us who have struggled through drug abuse and still came out on the other side still sick, mentally ill, but altogether still alive. I did choose to stop using, and I am still an addict, and I am in recovery from my disease. Here’s to all the warriors.

Author: Shannon M. Scroggins, 2017

 

 

This content published by Creative Unity with permission from the original author. 

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