Addiction: Is it Really a Disease?

Causes, Symptoms, and Neurobiology

The answer to this question is complex.  If humans are capable of free will, shouldn't we be able to chose to use (or not use) drugs/alcohol? Simultaneously, we also know that addiction has a genetic component to it as evidenced by years of scientific data and twin studies. Why can some people use highly addictive substances and not become addicted?  

The answer to 'Is addiction a disease?' has religious, philosophical, and political ramifications. For some, believing addiction is a disease helps them to find forgiveness for themselves and others. As forgiveness is an important part of the healing process, this belief helps them to recover.  For others, believing addiction is a disease allows them to deny responsibility for their actions or the actions of others.  Belief that addiction is a disease gives some a convenient excuse not to change.


From a medical or scientific point of view, Addiction is considered a disease. It can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and addiction treatment is reimbursed by major health insurance companies. However, I suggest each person struggling with an addiction to decide for themselves.  Which ever personal belief helps you to become a better person should be sufficient evidence that you have made the right decision. 

 

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