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Message Board > General / Miscellaneous > Is Addiction Really A Disease?


Posted by: Blackmailed Wife May 20, 2014, 12:37 PM
I consider myself highly educated and informed about addicts, addiction and co-dependency. I am a family member of an addict and I have had a front line view of the horror. However, I am not buying into the notion society and the medical field pushes that it is a DISEASE. I will agree that it is a SICKNESS. They are two very different things.

Wondering if there are others who feel this way.

I am really tired of addicts using the "disease" excuse for their "problem". I am of the opinion that most addicts (while using) want to blame it on someone or something else. They act as if addiction plucked them out of a group of healthy people and now has it's death grip on them. They seemingly take little or no responsibility for their own "situation" and choices.

DISEASE - (definition) A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.

Most professionals claim that the latter part of the definition (characterized by an identifiable group or signs or symptoms) serves as their reasoning for classifying addiction as a disease. While I agree that addicts (including alcoholics) do show identifiable signs or symptoms and can be grouped with others of the same..... I do not think that this fact alone constitutes the decision to include addiction in the disease category.

Cancer and Diabetes are diseases. These afflictions (among many others) aren't CHOSEN by the afflicted. The afflicted don't continue to CHOOSE to have these deadly diseases. The afflicted usually choose a treatment path to put these type of afflictions in remission and choose to eradicate every bit of their diseases from their body if they can. They don't continue to reach out to Cancer and Diabetes and invite them in for a good time. Hey cancer... LET's PARTY!!!!!! I've never heard a cancer patient say.. "It be calling me" or "I just need one more hit" or "I only use a little bit" or "I can stop anytime I want" or "I'm depressed and can't face reality" or "I'll go into rehab tomorrow" or "I just wanted to reward myself with a little drugs since I've been sober for a few days"..... etc.

That being said, I get that once addicts are to the point where they feel as though they are no longer in control and their lives became unmanageable and all the Psychosis that goes into being mentally, physically or emotionally controlled by their drug of choice... it is STILL ULTIMATELY..... A CHOICE!!!!! Why do we forget that the "now" addict once made the choice to try pain pills, or cocaine, or meth, or heroine, or whatever drug interested them for whatever reasons. They made a conscious decision to ... take that first hit.. or drink... or double up on the pain killers they where prescribed because they discovered how good it feels! Or they have to "HIDE" from some harsh reality in their lives because they just can't FACE it sober like the rest of us tackle every day without a crutch. Addicts always have the CHOICE to STOP!!!! No matter what rung of the addiction ladder they are on. Most addicts choose to continue the sick behavior because they are GETTING SOMETHING OUT OF IT!!!! Some sort of REWARD that they are willing to risk EVERYTHING for. They choose to allow themselves to be vulnerable to the affects of drugs no matter the consequences to their mind, body and spirit. Let alone to the detriment of their relationships with loved ones, family and friends. That isn't a disease. That is a sickness. That is a CHOICE they made and continue to make EVERY SINGLE time they use.

I'm sick of addicts saying..."Do you think I want to be this way?" Because the real answer here is.... YES! YOU DO WANT TO BE THIS WAY... IF YOU DIDN'T..... YOU WOULD SEEK HELP TO BE NOT.... THIS WAY.

The really sad part... and true victims of addiction are the addict's loved ones. We are the ones... like with cancer patients... that have no control over what you are doing to yourselves. All we can do is sit by and watch and hope that the addict will get and stay clean. It is so painful and devastating for those of us that feel hopeless to your sickness. Only the addict can save themselves. CHOOSE a different path. Still a CHOICE!

Using drugs of any kind and becoming physically, mentally, or emotionally addicted to a drug is a CHOICE!!! No one forced it upon them. Many go to unspeakable lengths to continue their use... is that the disease part they speak of? Wrong again. They choose to go to those unspeakable and horrible lengths... no one is forcing them.

There isn't a person I know who has cancer or diabetes (or any other disease) that CHOSE to get it! So tell me again how this SICKNESS IS A DISEASE?

I will honestly entertain some logical educated responses on this topic.

Posted by: Blackmailed Wife July 1, 2014, 3:20 PM
I see many people have read this post and no one has replied. I would be interested to know if anyone out there agrees with this post. If you do, I would really like to know. Please just reply with "agreed". I'm sort of taking a poll.

Thanks

Posted by: Sarah9 July 3, 2014, 9:06 AM
I think that some people have a predisposition to addiction, especially if there is mental illness. The book Codependent No More by Melody Beattie has been extremely helpful to me. Loving an addict is a terrible and painful journey. I know. My daughter has been an addict for over 10 years. I had tried EVERYTHING possible to help her and I finally came to realize that I had to detach for my own health and sanity. The book helped me understand the pain and suffering that I was going through and helped me progress through the stages of loss which are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I've arrived at the stage of Acceptance last month and although I have my sad moments at times, I'm starting to feel a little better every day and that is a blessing. My heart still aches, but I'm not in AGONY as I was for so many years.

An addict will never stop using drugs because you want them to stop using drugs. Either they want it for themselves or it doesn't happen. You can do everything right and offer everything that is good and right to help them recover but if they don't want it, there is nothing that you can do but to make peace with yourself. The only other choice is to spiral down with them while watching, waiting, and hoping for them to change. I finally realized that unless my daughter is recovering from her addiction, she is getting worse every day and taking me down with her.

Here is a quote from an article that I read in Time Magazine. Although the article was not about drugs or addiction, for me it sums up the nightmare of loving an addict...

"Life's most perplexing riddles have no comforting resolutions".

Posted by: momg July 6, 2014, 5:53 PM
I agree with you, but at some point the sickness becomes so great, that they cant find a way out because of the mental illness/ my son is only sober and clean in jail or prison, I think it is a predisposition but at a certain point willpower plays into it. the day a few years ago I picked up my son from rehab he started teling me about relapses being normal, I knew then that he would use immediately, he had an excuse, and it was bonafide because his counselor told him to expect it. whatever they are doing at rehabs it isn't working for most of them. ya I had the same position you have a couple of years ago (still do) and got blasted for it lol

Posted by: CAULM July 18, 2014, 4:15 PM
I believe it to be a disease because in or out of recovery, the addicted mind is still at work ... still active ... the traits of the addictive disease are still present. Plus, it's a disease that requires daily maintenance to arrest and continue recovery. In other words, if it were just behavioral problem, a choice, once the addict was clean the problem would be over. They would no longer physically need the drug and could go on about their lives in a healthy manner. But unfortunately, that's not the way it works.
Thank you for this topic!

Posted by: suspectdj August 14, 2014, 10:22 AM
I suppose if one is the cause of the self inflicted 'sickness' disease, will play part only when organ's show signs of deteroration.

Your not factoring in examples of personalities namely persons with addictive tendencies. This may purely be down to genes or a head injury for example. Ultimately, its down to the brain and how well mentally health of the person and how the persons view their own lifestyle choices.


I do however agree that it is free-choice specially the very first time of using. Become addicted your life will change dramaticly!!!. Its about acceptance of addiction, and hopefully successful recovery.

I'm day 18 into methadone detox FREE AT LAST!!
SUSPECT NEW TO SITE

Posted by: Joe C October 7, 2014, 4:04 PM
Disease, allergy, illness -as a metaphor, Okay, I can go along with that. But honestly addiction (and I've been in recover for 38 years) is a behavioral disorder. It presents more like an OCD than a disease. I'm not medical but can't you see a disease in a microscope? You can see addicts look different in MRI scans but then how does one separate excessive drug/alcohol use vs an addict. Someone with excessive use is told, "Stop now or your liver will explode and you'll die." That's all they need to hear. They quit. Tell the same thing to an alcoholic, you'll get the same reply but maybe a very different result.

I don't mean to sound all conspiracy-theory here but I think the AMA used the term "disease" to create a salable franchise on treating addiction (alcohol, etc).

It doesn't bother me that people talk about their "disease" anymore than hearing people talk about what a Taurus they are. I don't have to believe in Horoscope to follow along with their story.

Posted by: Notagain!! October 20, 2014, 3:47 PM
I have thought about this also as several of my sons friends just want him to grow up and stop using. I think there is an addiction spectrum. My son seems to have a definite behavioral aspect/history of ADHD -anxiety-depression. " I was working two jobs so I used meth to help me stay alert enough to do that." I said that I would have just let one go-he said he was going to let one go in a month or two and then would have stopped using meth. Oh but he had already had a dirty UA and probation violation. The lies come so easy that truth seems so difficult.

I do think as a nurse that insurance companies need that designation to cover multiple rehabs/meds.

I guess it really does not matter disease or choice -more like pregnancy -either you use/abuse drugs or you don't.

Posted by: Jay October 23, 2014, 3:03 AM
Are any of you medical professionals with the ability to treat and diagnose? Do you have a medical degree from an accredited institution? Are you board certified? If not, then your thoughts and opinions are just that, thoughts and opinions. Not fact. It is also worth pointing out that your opinions and beliefs are going against the majority of the medical field. Seeing as how you are not a an expert in this field, it is incredibly ignorant of you, or maybe arrogant of you, do disagree with the experts for no apparent reason. Or if you do have a reason you have not stated it. Since medicine is based on science I would expect your reason to be as well rather then just hearsay. Do you really think that defining a disease as "something that can be seen in a microscope" is that simple? Get over your self.

Posted by: Blackmailed Wife December 20, 2014, 12:50 AM
I have reasons to doubt and question the medical field based on my own personal experience with the addict that I live with. Just because I am not a medical professional doesn't mean that I and others in this thread haven't posed valid hypothesis on this label. Many of us have had similar experiences with addicts. I have personally done a lot of research on the matter and I feel that some addicts use the "disease" label as a cop out for their own irresponsibility and demise. I understand that addiction makes changes in the brain. I am simply tired of the excuse. I think that the fact that you can't see it under a microscope was a valid argument for this topic. Thank you all for your input. I haven't checked this thread for some time and I'm happy to see some debate on this subject. Please keep the comments flowing.

Posted by: Blackmailed Wife December 20, 2014, 1:09 AM
Jay
Apparently you must be a medical professional. I don't think Joes statements where arrogant or stem from ignorance. I would have liked to have seen your side of this posted rather than harping on others opinions. We are all entitled to our opinions. Opinions is what I was asking for in this thread.

Instead, stop questioning if any of us are medical professionals, most posters made it clear they are not. I would like to have heard your medical communities opinion based on the facts you referred to.

Medical practice is a growing and changing force. Scientists (medical and otherwise) learn new things by the minute. What was thought to be truth many years ago may not be truth now due to modern medicine.

YOUR post was arrogant. Get over YOURSELF and present your side of this issue.

Posted by: Sportsgirl December 26, 2014, 1:02 PM
I believe that addiction starts as a choice to use or not use drugs/alcohol but sooner than they can stop there is a change that occurs in the brain chemistry of an addict that no longer makes it a choice but a need. A need to not be sick and detox and research has proven that the brain chemistry of addicts are different than non drug users. I do believe that the brain can heal itself depending on how long they have been on the drug or drugs and once healed it can then become a a choice again but when they are in a current state of using or early recovery, I do believe 100% that it is a disease and should be treated as such with medications and counseling that can help keep them stay clean to allow the brain to heal.

Posted by: Happy May 1, 2015, 4:37 PM
that person is a nasty, hateful person. I think anger and lack of sympathy is the disease in that persons case

Posted by: kimmy May 3, 2015, 9:05 AM
I was in that school of thought "just say no!" until I experienced addiction with family members and everything changed in terms of my opinion. Since going to al anon I have noticed that usually there are several members in a family who experience addiction problems. When in university I remember a prof telling us about studies involving addictions and genetic links....or family links. Here in lies the predisposition theory. Does an alcoholic have a drink, even get drunk and not drink for a long time after that experience? That is what happens to a social drinker. I can't remember the last time that I had a drink, Christmas maybe? I didn't feel drunk in any case. My experience with alcoholics is that having a drink or even a few is usually not their intention, they continue drinking to the point of silliness or in some cases belligerence. Their remorse when sober appears real but not strong enough to prevent doing it again and again. This lack of control is also found in people who smoke and overeat....self destructive behaviour but behaviour that even the threat of death is not enough for some to stop. Addiction is a mental illness and it is no different from the heart problems that maybe you or I were genetically predisposed to have. The only difference is the huge stigma attacked to addiction and that is because of the behaviour the addict displays. Just look at all those addicts on the street, we give up on most of them.We also for the most part give up on many mentally ill persons because many end up in jail due to aggressive behaviour towards others. The problem is a big one and more time, effort and resources have to be spend....this problem of addiction/mental illness is expanding and making the 21 century a more dangerous place for both the mentally ill and all of us.
Alcohol is a drug but easier to get on the street. Same destruction, soul destroying on families and the addict.

Posted by: Richard MacInnis May 3, 2015, 5:50 PM


You're right that cancer and diabetes aren't choices. But neither is addiciton. Smoking is a choice, and it gives you lung cancer. Eating lots of sugar is a choice, and it causes diabetes. Most people who drink (or even most people who use cocaine actually) don't develop an addiction. Once you have an addiction, though, it's infinitely harder to stop. My grandfather died of lung cancer, and smoked until he was hospitalized full time, even though he knew it was killing him.

I do agree with the sentiment of your message, however, and I think it's best said "addiction isn't a choice, recovery is". Just as with diabetes, if I don't continue monitoring my blood sugar, and I don't change my diet, then my death is my fault, despite the disease that complicated it.

Posted by: JOHN May 19, 2015, 11:01 AM
Is addiction a disease, this is easy, do you think someone would risk there family, career, and status, just to be high?
I was a vice president of a company who had to find out the hard way I was a addict.
I never thought I would be a addict, I never wanted to be addict.
I had the perfect life the big house, the beautiful wife and wonderful kids.
I turned out to be a lying piece of s*** that was only worried about turn off my brain with drugs
after many years of help and therapy I have finally gotten this in front of me.
drug addiction is like being a diabetic, its not a choice .

Posted by: angelo212 May 21, 2015, 9:44 PM
All the new research is saying that addiction is a "brain disease" caulm said it best in his comment above.

Posted by: corsx May 27, 2015, 5:38 PM
nope, i am an "addict" (hate that word) and i'm in recovery/clean. a disease is cancer, a disease is something you catch, something that needs medication to cure/heal, it's something you didn't have any control over.

many people may get angry with this comment. but all of us had a choice, we chose to do what we did/do, we chose to abuse substances to the point we made our bodies believe we need it. we trained ourselves to become so highly dependent on something that we now believe we can't control it.

it is a choice to carry on doing what you do and you can chose not to do it anymore. it may feel challenging but lots of us kick this habit and i'm living proof. once you say i will never do this again and believe it, and promise yourself and take full responsibility over your past and your future then that is when things will start getting better. a disease cannot be told to go away, it cannot be controlled by just one decision in our heads. we did not just get this, we did it to ourselves.

Posted by: Anazam June 21, 2015, 1:38 AM
Verbally describing addiction is rather like blind men describing an elephant (click link).

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxT42hagLI2bY255T0NIekpCTzQ&authuser=0



Whereas, the reality of addiction is more like THIS (again, click link).

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxT42hagLI2beHBnaFpPX2E4ekE&authuser=0



The article by Dr. Leshner referenced on this website's home page (just under the large grey-scale quote appearing above the pictured bust of a young man's smiling face) uses both "brain disease" and "chronic recurring illness" to describe addiction. He also make the apt analogy of addiction to a "highjacked" brain which validates the contributions of both Caulm & corsx, above. Leshner states, "Addiction involves inseparable biological and behavioral components" (emphasis mine).

As Sportsgirl points out, the addict made a choice (and some would argue, the same bad choice again and again) at some early point to use. suspectdj agrees and then captures well what Dr. Leshner says more pedantically about casual use growing into addiction; "Become addicted [and] your life will change dramatically!!!".

That is to say, the choice for recovery is a choice made (or refused) WITH A DIFFERENT BRAIN and is a choice with fundamentally, DECIDEDLY different requirements to fulfill. Should I, say, "eat a dish of ice cream?" versus should I "move to a poor neighborhood in Indonesia and start a new career in a new field while I'm learning the local language?".

Joe C makes an insightful experiential connection between OCD and the experience of being overtaken by addiction. Many very long-term addicts no longer "LIKE" the substance and it no longer provides the exalting "PLEASURE" it once did, but now they "CRAVE", pine for and seek out through craft and wont (look it up) the object not of their OWN desire, but of the addiction's desire until the addiction, the new master, the NOW master is oh, so very temporarily sated...

Once addicted the brain is altered ("highjacked") beyond the addict's capacity to either use as they once did or to repair without formal, focused assistance. Moreover, the subjective experience of that addiction varies from addict to addict according to genetic characteristics, a host of social and environmental factors, even such mundane influences as the food and fluids they use for nourishment.

And then the Master, the addiction, awakens from it's brief slumber and screams out again in all it's many voices for the object of IT'S desire. The wailing of the voices drowns out reason, judgement, will and responsibility... all manner of connections to kin and caring fly away and only that Master remains, with the force of a charging elephant, and only obedience to the Master's demand remains. There is no heed to "disease" or "illness" or "decision" or "recovery" or any other external form or device except to still the voices of the master.

Posted by: tonyaddict August 29, 2015, 7:12 PM
For someone who claims to be both intelligent and an expert on addiction I'm staggered by both the ignorance and the lack of empathy in your post. Although I can't speak for all addicts, I know that my 'life' is very short of parties. I live a horrible half-life of clandestine meetings with people who are not particularly nice in order to take a substance I hate with a passion.

I appreciate that you probably won't agree me but the cold hard truth is that both your and my opinion is largely irrelevant. The statistical probability is that I will die prematurely as a result of my addiction. Despite this knowledge I am unable to stop. I would probably have a similar opinion to you if I didn't have addiction but please believe that it is about as far from being a party as it is possible to get. I recognise that both cancer and diabetes are horrible diseases but to my knowledge they don't make you any more dead than addiction does.

Posted by: Merrimack river boy January 29, 2016, 5:32 PM
Addiction predates science , modern medical practice , modern psychiatric practice and all the vocabulary and terminology that those disciplines invent and discard when their usefulness has run its course. My experience has been, and is, with heroin and methadone beginning in 1967 and continuing to the present . The equation is the same as its been for at least 6,000 years since the first poor prick saw that goo oozing from the poppy pod and put it in his mouth. He and I could have a very substantive conversation and understand each other with perfect clarity and not once refer to addictive personalities, serotonin, receptors, synapses, agonists, antagonists etc. ad infinitum. If you use long enough, you're screwed, and if you want to get straight you suffer. Medicine, psychiatry and science don't exist on some elevated plateau where the light of truth is perpetually shining and where jealousy, hatred, laziness, stupidity, greed (the love of money),and ignorance don't exist. I don't really care about degrees or certifications or the various validations that these professionals display so prominently in their little offices. It's been in those places that I've met some of the most egregiously ignorant and nasty a******* on the planet. We have applied science (pharmaceutical corporations) to thank for heroin, methadone, oxys, benzos and all the other synthetic psychotropics that have caused such incredible misery in our Western world (not that the East has any immunity, or that medicine/science hasn't in other arenas made great and beneficial contributions). I don't believe that addiction is a disease. Addiction is addiction --- a category of it's own. I don't now what the solution is. There are some areas of human behavior for which there don't seem to be any solutions. I do know that methadone clinics ( courtesy of science, medicine, psychiatry ) are one of the horrors of recent human history. Being on methadone maintenance is like being embalmed. I do feel badly for those people who for reasons of severe physical pain were steered into methadone maintenance. On bad days I sincerely believe that there is a special corner of Hell reserved for drug counselor s, social workers and psychiatric and medical practitioners employed in these clinics and I hope that it's right beside the junkie section. No, not a disease. Last thing -- why are so many of us so willing to relinquish our personal autonomy, our ability to choose and act on those choices and cover behind a spurious disease construct. 65 years old. First bag of dope when I was 17. Last when I was 55. Dually addicted methadone /heroin 30 yrs. Now at .75 mgs. Looking forward to the Summer. Be running my mile tonight.

Posted by: Addiction is a disease. February 7, 2016, 6:46 PM
Addiction is a disease. You have the definition and it fits. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of the movie Pleasure Unwoven. This will provide the education you need to understand the disease better. In general, society is very ignorant regarding the facts surrounding addiction.

Posted by: Lucy February 22, 2016, 4:51 AM
I think your post is wrong. If it were the case that it is always a choice to be an addict, then those that aquire AIDS because of gay relationships made the choice to be gay so it's their own fault they get it. Those who get hooked on narcartics because they were given pain killers in the hospital too long or their doctor gave them too long and then they are cut off, but by then they have an addiction that they never asked for. Some are born addicted because of their addict mother and thus will always be, because they have a chemical imbalance due to no fault of their own. It doesn't mean they will continue to use but they are still addicts.
So no, addiction it's not always a choice, nor is it something that goes away just becausbecause they quit using, it simply ginto into remission. You obviously have never had to battle any kind of addiction or habit, it isn't easy. I have and although I no longer am using drugs, my addiction is still very much there. It never goes away and yes I am one of those people who did NOT become an addict by choice. So perhaps you should open your narrow mind and do a little more research before you make such bold statements about something you really don't haves facts about. It is not ALWAYS a choice my friend. Narrow mindedness IS. Its people like you that make it so difficult for addicts to get the help they sometimes desire. Some people want help but it cost so damn much there's no way they can pay for it so they don't stop because they don't know how to stop. And some thing's make you so sick, could even kill you if you don't quit them with proper meds and help.
So unless you've been there, please don't think you've got it all figured out what'it's like to be addicted, because you couldn't be more wrong.

Posted by: jimbo417 February 23, 2016, 11:45 PM
I believe they call it a disease because it causes in most cases a non reversible chemical imbalance in the brain. Your brain is an evolving organ and adapts for survival,, when its overloaded it creates more receptor that never go away ,, they may become dormant post addiction after several months. But they will remain waiting to awaken at the first sign of overload.

Posted by: john k February 27, 2016, 4:31 PM
For everyone who thinks addiction is not a disease, purchase the dvd "pleasure Unwoven". It is an excellent presentation presenting the arguments of choice v addiction. Why do some people
who experiment with alcohol,as do so many young people, become addicts and most drink
socially?

Posted by: MissL March 3, 2016, 4:41 PM
It's a diease no two way about it. No body wants that kind of pain in their life. It affects every part of thier life and the brain is an organ just like the pancrease ect. Most addicts will have mental illness aswell that's why they are liked but can happen to anyone. Something like a trauma can damage the brain, The same as mental illness, it's not functioning 'normally' and it's not a virus or infetion. And addiction is in that catergry- mental illness so is just as much a diease.

Posted by: Margot May 7, 2016, 6:12 AM
Why is a brain being programmed to want something a disease. You can program your brain to do anything. A brain suffering discomfort when its not getting what its programmed to have obviously feels discomfort, but it doesn't last forever, just like your brain not being use to this new thing doesn't last forever. Just as if you start running long distance and at first all you can think about is wanting to stop until after repeatedly putting yourself through how much it sucks that you can run a marathon and enjoy it. You can program and then you can un-program. YOU told IT what it wanted before IT ever told YOU. Maybe this is why there are so many addicts - to program your brain to do something that is good for you actually sucks before it becomes good - but with drugs and alcohol, its good before it sucks, and its good as long as you're high, and avoiding discomfort which is an aspect of life is what you are aviding. Avoiding heart break, problems at home, earning that masters degree you had to stay up every single night to study for, doing everything you can to be successful because you dont like the life you have now but instead of being strong and feeling stressed, tired, discouraged, you CHOOSE to numb it. This cannot be classified with someone who is suffering from AIDS, Alzheimers, tuberculosis, schizoprenia, a brain tumer, this is not a disease. If we are defining this brain signal which causes a release of dopamine a disease, than me running every single f***ing day and loving it so much and it is my passion in life is a disease as well. I exclude this from mothers who use while pregnant. Everything was your choice until it is wasn't and now you want a reason not to feel ashamed. A brain signaling you for something it wants, that before it ever wanted it, you told it to - does not a disease make. New research that they can see the signal for drugs from the brain and where it is located. So what. Our brain has a signal for everything - how do you think I know know to type on this keyboard without ever looking down. People want a reason to explain it all so that when they seek treatment they aren't seen as worse people than someone in the hospital bed next to them who is also suffering, I don't deny that an addict is suffering, mentally/emotionally/physically - but without that title, that addicts are fighting for with lets face it no weight, they lose almost every feeling in themselves or act of empathy from another that make their lives a little easier to face, every day.

Posted by: Margot May 7, 2016, 6:13 AM
Why is a brain being programmed to want something a disease. You can program your brain to do anything. A brain suffering discomfort when its not getting what its programmed to have obviously feels discomfort, but it doesn't last forever, just like your brain not being use to this new thing doesn't last forever. Just as if you start running long distance and at first all you can think about is wanting to stop until after repeatedly putting yourself through how much it sucks that you can run a marathon and enjoy it. You can program and then you can un-program. YOU told IT what it wanted before IT ever told YOU. Maybe this is why there are so many addicts - to program your brain to do something that is good for you actually sucks before it becomes good - but with drugs and alcohol, its good before it sucks, and its good as long as you're high, and avoiding discomfort which is an aspect of life is what you are aviding. Avoiding heart break, problems at home, earning that masters degree you had to stay up every single night to study for, doing everything you can to be successful because you dont like the life you have now but instead of being strong and feeling stressed, tired, discouraged, you CHOOSE to numb it. This cannot be classified with someone who is suffering from AIDS, Alzheimers, tuberculosis, schizoprenic, a brain tumer, this is not a disease. If we are defining this brain signal which causes a release of dopamine a disease, than me running every single f***ing day and loving it so much and it is my passion in life is a disease as well. I exclude this from mothers who use while pregnant. Everything was your choice until it is wasn't and now you want a reason not to feel ashamed. A brain signaling you for something it wants, that before it ever wanted it, you told it to - does not a disease make. New research that they can see the signal for drugs from the brain and where it is located. So what. Our brain has a signal for everything - how do you think I know know to type on this keyboard without ever looking down. People want a reason to explain it all so that when they seek treatment they aren't seen as worse people than someone in the hospital bed next to them who is also suffering, I don't deny that an addict is suffering, mentally/emotionally/physically - but without that title, that addicts are fighting for with lets face it no weight, they lose almost every feeling in themselves or act of empathy from another that make their lives a little easier to face, every day.

Posted by: Unknown June 2, 2016, 3:17 AM
I respectfully disagree with you. I am pretty sure addictive behavior is a mental health issue. You can decide whether or not to use drugs. Just as people who are overweight choose to eat too much. We all know that being overweight can lead to diabetes right? Diabetes is a health issue is it not?Too much of anything is not good. You think anyone wants diabetes? No..just like no one wants to be thought of as a drug addict. Most people don't want to be considered fat, but because they are unable to stop eating so much they are overweight. Should we lock up all the fat people too?

Posted by: tim June 15, 2016, 4:28 PM
You not being an addict tells the whole story. If you are not an addict, you cannot possibly knows what an addict thinks like or feels like. you do not know what they can control. People are addicted to all kinds of things, not just drugs and alcohol. All addictions are bad. See, once a person reaches the point of addiction, they lose the ability to make a choice. It controls them. the disease of made up of much more than the drugs/alcohol. It is made up of shame, regret, guilt, low self esteem, anger, resentment, selfishness, etc... No one chooses to be an addict. No ones want to be an addict. sure, we may choose to take that first hit but we never intend on it going as fair as it goes. Denial stops us from seeing that we have a problem. The drug tells us that we are ok. We are not responsible for our disease but we are resposnble for our recovery. Having the disease of addiction is not our excuse to do what ever we want. It is like any other disease, we have to get treatment. it is a spiritual disease. Maybe you should study the disease concept of addiction or have someone explain it to you. Dis ease (dis means away from) so a disease is when you are away from ease. trust me, nothing is easy when you are an addict.

Posted by: tim June 15, 2016, 4:30 PM
drug addiction and alcoholism is now classified as a mental health issue. you may not agree with it but epiople who have studied this, researched this, and have enormous amounts of education in this area, have said it is a mental health issue and a disease.

Posted by: tim June 15, 2016, 4:39 PM
just reading the original post. you talked about running to release dopamines and compared that to a disease. well, if you run or exercise everyday; then one day you pull a mucsle but continue to run anyway, or your running causes you to negelect other areas of your life, but you do it anyway, then you have a problem. if you continue to run despite these problems, and running is all you think about, you have an addiction. so, yes, running can be an addiction.

Posted by: NyToFlorida July 2, 2016, 8:03 PM
Diseases can be reversed.

I think the addict needs to get to a point of being clean, then change the habits, diet and exercise, alternative activities, keep doing something new until something sticks.new coping mechanisms. then, after doing this for a year being clean, it starts to get easier.

It is all so complicated. How some never develop an addiction. Some see where they are headed and abruptly halt and turn around. Some dont have enough will power and for a reason not clear to them or us, they stay in it even when they do not want to.

The same rant from the initial postings can be said for many behavioral situations. Obesity, tabbaco smoking, shop lifting, gambling, etc. Maybe it is something linked to OCD. That would put addition in the category of psycological disease, not physical disease.

Some people who are over weight change their diet and exercise and loose 50 lbs. Some do not try. and so on. stop drinking soda ! How hard is that! And diet soda is even worse. diet foods make people fat and poison them with chemicals.

Yeah, that's why we are all here at this message board. We are trying to break the code.

Another thought. The ones who are successful are not in these message boards. They are enjoying their new life and dont want to ever be reminded of this crappy time in their life.

Posted by: Aim July 23, 2016, 11:19 PM
I agree 100%, not a disease. It's a really bad Choice!!

Posted by: WarriorQueen July 31, 2016, 5:28 PM
I just wrote a post about this not too long ago . I see everyone pretty much settled this, but if your not an addict or a doctor or intelligent enough to research that it's a mental disease then you wouldn't understand . Not to be rude but it's science that has proved that it is indeed a disease not just a really bad choice .

Before I used I thought of an addict as a Bum on the street that look emaciated and dirty . I now know it can happen to anyone especially people with underlying conditions such as depression anxiety etc...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is now a medical fact that it is a mental disease not just a bad choice .

Posted by: WarriorQueen July 31, 2016, 5:37 PM
Just to add it is a disease .

Picture this if your Brain and Body told you that you were starving that you needed to eat . Would you ?
I bet you would eat because your body and brain told you so . You'd kill animals and whatever else just to eat so you'd avoid starvation .

It's basically the same with addiction . How can you expect an addict to refuse to listen to their body and mind . It's very hard when your brain is saying "Your starving EAT!"
Never pass judgement on something you know nothing about .

Basically it's a disease just like the sky is blue and the grass is green . It's a fact now .


Posted by: eatthecrayon August 13, 2016, 5:15 PM
Disease is just not a choice (My grandmother has Alzheimer a horrible disease, she didn't choose to have it) but not dealing with all your demons and picking up is a total decision think about it..

Posted by: lolleedee November 18, 2016, 2:04 AM
A bunch of interesting responses. I would pose the question What about those of us who took our first opiate due to illness or injury? I started my journey after a catastrophic horseback riding accident that left me with a broken spine, pelvis and ribs. I had a closed head injury and underwent multiple surgeries and was hospitalized on IV narcotics for over 6 months. THAT was NOT a choice to use! Yet, I still became an addict!

I agree with the fact that the physical and mental aspects of addiction are inseparable. I also think the disease/behavioral/choice/no choice doesn't really matter.

Active addiction needs to be treated by a bunch of different modalities. It is hell for the families and hell for the addicts. PERIOD! It doesn't matter what we call it...lets treat it and support each other! The blame game does nothing to solve the problem! We can debate the chicken or the egg thing til the cows(or any other animal you prefer) come home and it won't make a damn bit of differnce! Families will still be torn apart and addicts will still die! Treatment and understanding, folks!

Posted by: stanm February 8, 2017, 4:33 AM
Many of us have had to struggle with the concept of addiction as a disease. I would recommend the book "The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease." The author, Marc Lewis, is of the view that addiction is a learned behavior that can be "unlearned." I'm sure that's an oversimplification, but it is the general idea. It is consistent with the recovery program known as "Smart Recovery," which eschews the concept of "powerlessness," and, instead, applies concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy to change behavior. I don't know the ultimate answer, but I believe this read will help distill your thoughts. The following is a link to an article in Salon http://www.salon.com/2015/06/27/addiction_is_not_a_disease_a_neuroscientist_argues_that_its_time_to_change_our_minds_on_the_roots_of_substance_abuse/“

Posted by: Mad At The Process April 10, 2017, 1:49 PM
Hi there,
I too believe it is a choice and not a disease. But I do think the changes that occur to the brain after long term use are in a way a "Disease". I am married to an addict that has lied to my face for over 10 years now about being clean and getting the issue under control. It is truly unbelievable the crafty fabricated lies she would come up with to keep me thinking she was clean. The defensive behavior when asking her if she was on something always led me on to know she was.

She went away for rehab and is now out going to NA meetings every day. She quit her job before going into rehab and now "Isn't in the right frame of mind to work yet". I find the recovery process to be just as painful as the drug problem. I do not trust her one bit and she disappears for hours at night to go to meetings and then mingle with the NA friends. I asked her to attend day meetings while I'm at work and she refuses, she likes the evening instead...

There is plenty more to the story but I'm typing on my phone so I'm going to cut this short. I am truly happy that she is over 30 days clean but we have a ton of other issues with trust and communication that are not working for us. I feel this will ultimately end in divorce because I find the entire process to be selfish on her part and she doesn't seem to care about putting in work at home. The NA meetings and friends from Rehab have become her main focus. It's like dealing with a teenager that wants to go out all night with her friends...

When the trust is broken for so long, when lied to for so long. It's really difficult to forgive. I feel like a doormat.

Posted by: NyToFlorida April 10, 2017, 2:23 PM

Mad at P,
I wanted to reply bc a friend of mine has said the same exact words regarding trust and his spouse. in this situation there is a hording addiction - and some other past stuff friend is having a hard time putting in the past. but wife does not help reassure him or their relationship. refuses to work, lies, agrees to improvements, counciling, does not follow thru.

After many years of begging and trying and supporting, they are headed for divorce. It all became too stressful and unhealthy. he could not suffer anymore. It does mirror the addictive personality. yes, selfish on her part. look up narcissistic personality disorder.

It is true that Rehab and the people in recovery become a focus point bc they understand. But a healthy response would be to divide her time between both home and recovery.

thanks for sharing. know that you are not alone, not crazy, not selfish.

Posted by: Katz July 13, 2017, 6:07 AM
Joe C "what a taurus they are". Lol! :-D

Posted by: Katz July 13, 2017, 6:15 AM
NytoFlorida. It's possible that addiction is an extremely selfish condition/disease/sickness/choice, and as such, the addict shares a lot of similar traits with NPD. Or it could be that people with NPD or psychopathy are prone to addiction. I am not a doctor, but the topic is interesting. I also have read a lot about how childhood trauma and adult addiction seem to be linked, although I am not sure what the link is -- trauma might lead to an adult developing PTSD and then choosing to either suicide or use drugs or engage in other self-nullifying, self-destructive behaviours. If you hate yourself and you hate the world, you might not care what you do and whom you affect. However, whatever the reason, at the end of the day, the drug use is going to make life worse for everyone, not better, and the addict knows it. I wish I had all the answers.

Posted by: Katz July 13, 2017, 6:38 AM
I just thought I would add this, and I'm not sure I agree with this person's assessment, but I do know a psychiatrist who works in a hospital. She's a friend of a friend, and she's said that she gets super annoyed when the people from emergency send a drug addict up to the psych ward. She says, this is not a mental health issue, this is an addict, this person is on drugs and I can't treat their mental health problems until they get off the drugs. So the patient with the addiction gets sent away. I have an (ex) husband (not divorced yet, still early days, his whereabouts are unknown) with a mental health issue who became an addict. I am pretty sure his mental health issue preceded the drug abuse, but back when he wasn't smoking 6 to 8 bowls a day and having seizures and psychotic episodes and stealing stuff, he could have stopped. Back when he had a choice to WAKE UP and get into rehab, he could have stopped. He choose not to stop before the drugs started to ravage his body. He is 5 foot 9 and only 100lbs. So... is it a disease? If it is, WHY did the doctors just pass him around like a hot potato and say, "so we can't give you pain relief to get off the drugs because this is a PTSD problem -- the pain is all in your head"... or "we can't give you therapy because you need pain relief to get off the drugs." It's no wonder he thought, f*ck it, I might as well annihilate myself and go out high. I was terrible because I enabled him by trying to get him medical help, feeding him, cleaning him, keeping him housed. So now he's on the street because the drugs were so bad for him they made him violent towards me. You know what? It's not acceptable that he's a drug addict and he made HORRIBLE choices for which he now must pay consequences. He ruined his marriage. He ruined his career. He ruined his health. But what's worse is that at some point, the structures that support the health of our society should have stepped in to stop the violence in his family home years ago... when he was a child. They should have said, yes the buck can and will stop here and if you do want help, we won't make it hard for you to get help. I go back and forth between saying "it's society's fault" and "it's his fault". I really think it's a bit of both. Sorry, this is so... I get so emotional thinking about this.

Posted by: SoberInMI July 22, 2019, 10:14 PM
Blackmailed Wife:

I haven't read all of the posts. just too many. I believe the disease concept applies, the body and brain malfunctions in the presence of all that alcohol and other narcotics. But if you are not open to the possibility that substance, it is a waste of time to explain. So Why did you ask?

Katz:

Your friend is wrong. Drug and alcohol addiction are covered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), thus it is in fact a mental health issue. This person is correct in that the drug addict cannot be treated psychologically until the addict is detoxified and abstinent.

Naysayers:

With the possible exception of Heroin, substance addiction starts as a choice. Continued abuse becomes an emotional addiction, and further use becomes a physical addiction. The hallmark of addiction is a very strong compulsion to use that is nearly impossible to deny, especially when addiction makes you weak-willed. Those who haven't been there have trouble understanding, but I can live with that because I wouldn't wish it on anybody. Ignorance is bliss!