There has been a debate ongoing for some time now as to whether or not drug addiction is a physical disease, one that damages the brain in a measurable way. However, this month saw the beginning of a trial in which it would be decided where this debate stands within our country… or so they thought.

Continued Legal Battles Surrounding Drug Addiction

“If addiction is a disease, is it fair to punish people for showing symptoms of it?” This was one of the questions posed by a writer from VICE about a related court case from this month. Within the case, it is being discussed how to address the actions of “a woman who relapsed under court ordered treatment and abstinence, for which she was imprisoned.” Obviously, whether or not she was ‘at fault’ here plays an enormous role in determining whether all this was wrongful or not.

However, the decision doesn’t just affect the defendant. Determining whether drug addiction is a disease will play a role in this discourse for years to come. Up to this point, there hasn’t been one answer, and so it makes the conversations surrounding addiction (and the laws, too) difficult to continue. “While a court may order a probationer to attend and adhere to treatment, a court cannot constitutionally order a medical/mental health outcome.” This is unfortunate, but somewhat obvious: no matter what is decreed by a court, there’s no way that they can ensure that the patient end up sober. It’s far more complicated than that.

Whether a person believes that addiction is “a chronic relapsing brain disease” or that it is instead “a behavior susceptible to the effects of various situational influences,” the way that we deal with those who are struggling with drug addiction has to change. If we can’t agree on one definition or the other, even in the legal/court environment, then we simply have to accept this difference and move on in the name of seeking out better recovery solutions for the people involved. It’s difficult to do those, though, because people are so tied to their previous beliefs and are unwilling to open their minds to other possibilities, particularly when it comes to the conversation surrounding drugs and alcohol.

If our society is so closed-minded, particularly in the minds of those in power, then how will any real change be made? It seems hopeless, as if we have completely stagnated in the search for actual progress. People are squabbling among themselves on all fronts as they all insist that they have the best ‘solution’ to the drug epidemic, and yet come up with little substantial suggestions for change. In the meantime, all they do is argue, debate, and butt heads while people with addictions suffer.

What, if anything, can we do to end some of this pointless arguing and to instead begin to implement strategies that work? The most important of all is to seek out education, to listen to all sides and make decisions that are best for those addiction patients. Knowing that the concept of addiction is complicated is one thing, but fully grasping its extent, and the hold that it has over people, is another. To get professional help for yourself or for others who are struggling with a drug addiction, contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.