Many people (researchers, professionals, and otherwise) are confident in their labeling addiction as a disease. Many other people, (researchers, professionals, and otherwise) are firm in their belief that those suffering from addiction should not be labeled as such. There are advantages and drawbacks to both, however, and you have to look at the facts and decide for yourself where the concept of addiction falls for you.
Should We Think of Addiction as a Disease?
The addiction conversation is one that involves dozens of different groups. Even those within the same organizations have released different statements regarding how they view addiction, or more specifically, how they classify it. For example, the “head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][said that] ‘addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease.'” So, if it’s a disease, why do we not have “a specific cause or set of causes, an agreed-on repertoire of treatment strategies, and a likely time course?”
Let’s examine each “camp” in separate measure. To view addiction as a disease of the brain, of the body, does offer some identifiable benefits. As with any other “illness,” those suffering from addiction require care, treatment, and/or medicine in order for them to recover. Though these are only parts of rehabilitation, they are crucial pieces which may not come as easily if we do not view addiction as a disease of the body and/or mind. That care may not be offered to them in a timely manner or at all without this classification. Also, the way that society as a whole views physical sickness would allot more sympathy and good will toward patients of addiction in this case, but may result in scorn, discrimination, and other negativity if not. These negative experiences could make the difference between recovering and relapse.
NIDA has said that “research has increasingly supported the view that addiction is a disease of the brain,” but they apparently said in the same breath that treatment for this particular model has worked out well so far. Perhaps some treatment has been able to effectively care for those suffering from addiction, but it’s beyond question that simply believing that addiction is a disease has not been the answer to developing a panacea for addiction. There are still more questions and issues than answers and solutions.
There’s the added confusion, of course, of thinking of addiction as a disease while also considering that addiction, as previously discussed, can be strictly physical, psychological, or both. Neurology is still being developed as a science in many ways and there are a lot of pieces that are still relatively hazy. Shakier still is U.S. health care as it’s turned over from one person’s ideas of what it should be to another, not adequately addressing many people’s needs at all, particularly when it comes to addressing addiction. Unfortunately, “the current healthcare landscape [is determining] our definition of addiction,” which makes it harder to say that addiction as a disease benefits from such health care through its labeling.
There is a lot more to consider and understand before deciding whether to think of addiction as a disease of the body and mind or to consider it otherwise. Next week, we will present the conclusion of this discussion in a second post. In the meantime, if you are suffering from addiction of any kind, or know someone who would benefit from treatment, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues. 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.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]