Addiction as a Disease: What is Addiction?

Have you ever looked down your nose at a drunken or high individual and blamed them for allowing themselves to be in that state? Or have you looked at such an individual and thought there’s no way you could ever end up in that state? A state where you abuse alcohol, marijuana, hallucinogens such as LSD/ PCP, Inhalants such as paint thinners, stimulants such as cocaine/ methamphetamine, opioid pain killers such as oxycodone/ codeine/ heroin or sedatives, hypnotics and tobacco?

The truth is, that drunken or high individual never thought s/he could ever be in such a sorry state. Why? The answer to drug addiction and substance abuse is unfortunately no easy one and it is linked to science and psychology.

For years, most people have associated addiction and substance abuse to morality. It was the notion of most people that having high moral values and standards could solve this problem. However, through scientific advancements, experts have found out that sheer willpower and strong morals alone cannot solve the problem of drug addiction. This is the reason why addiction and substance abuse has ceased to be classified as a social problem but rather a disease.

Whiles drug addiction and substance abuse have been classified as a disease, unlike other diseases, it is tricky to notice the onset of it’s symptoms including strong cravings, risky use or drug effects but like other diseases, it has its fair share of accompanied ailments like mental illness.

So, if drug addiction and substance abuse is a disease, which part of the body does it affect? Well, it’s the brain. Drugs such as those mentioned above changes normal brain functioning and distorts certain roles of the brain when it comes to judgement, learning, behavior control, decision making and memory capabilities.

In the initial stages of this disease, many people take drugs due to curiosity or peer pressure, to relieve stress levels, to feel good or better or to improve performance levels. These drugs are able to give individuals these desired feelings when they become intoxicated. Overtime, the body builds tolerance to these drugs and needs larger amounts to produce the desired effects and this when the drug addiction rears its ugly head.

At this disease state, it is a very long road to recovery but the good thing is that, outpatient programs, hospital interventions, therapeutic environments in addition to willpower can be helpful in managing the condition.