Disease proponents use much of the same research that the choice proponents do to state why addiction is a disease. Their view is that it alters the brain and as a result, it is characterized by an inability to stop using due to these physical changes that take place in the brain. Therefore, it is a disease and should be treated as such.
Both the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine classify addiction as a complex disease of the body and the brain that is caused by involuntary use of drugs or alcohol.
Disease proponents also compare substance abuse to diseases like cancer or diabetes, however, their explanation is that these diseases, just like addiction, are caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and behavioral factors. They have noted that genetics or biological risk factors account for approximately half of all cases of addiction.
The body releases certain chemicals in the brain when feelings of pleasure or basic needs are met. Drugs and alcohol are responsible for those chemical levels going up, and after a while, brain system changes occur involving memory, motivation, and reward.
At this point, a person will need their substance of choice just to feel normal. Intense cravings develop so they will continue to use the substance despite any negative consequences or repercussions.
As the disease progresses, an addict will lose desire to participate in daily activities, and in its chronic form, they stop caring about themselves and other people around them.
Disease proponents state that 25% – 50% of substance abusers suffer from a progressive, relapsing disease that must be treated extensively, along with continuing aftercare, and monitoring peer or family support systems.
Addicts are not addicted by choice; they feel they must have the substance, and in many cases, their bodies are physically dependent upon it. They need compassion, not shaming, and proper medical treatment just like those who suffer from any other disease.
If you or your loved one is currently experiencing a problem with addiction to drugs or alcohol, don’t wait until it’s too late. Please Contact Beginnings Treatment Centers now to speak with one of our experienced intake advisors. There is no obligation or cost for the initial consultation, and quick action might save your life or that of your loved one.