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Understanding Addiction Despite Differing Beliefs

Understanding Addiction - The Bergand Group

There is so much discussion over whether or not addiction is a disease that it often seems as if we’ll never have an answer. Everyone from health experts to government workers to ‘lay people’ offer their opinions, educated or otherwise, about the subject. Understanding addiction requires a lot of thought and sensitivity, though, and these are not always given their due within the conversation.

The Real Struggle in Understanding Addiction

The NIDA defines addiction as “as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.” That long definition essentially confirms their belief that addiction is a disease, but not everyone agrees with this assessment, arguing that it is “refuted by scientific research.”

How can we begin truly understanding addiction if we can’t agree on what addiction is in the first place? If we can’t begin the discussion with an agreement if this is just a ‘habit’ or a ‘disease,’ then how can we talk about it together with a united perspective?

“An analysis of human mental architecture reveals that only a subset of our minds are devoted to self-conscious deliberative reflection.” All this means is that, according to one particular analysis, we are not fully in control of ourselves. Some actions just happen without our thinking about them too much, like breathing and walking. Of course, there are other parts of our brains that cause use to be reflective, to consider our choices, and to make decisions. It is when these two are in conflict ( and we’ve discussed this duel issue before) that addiction becomes an even greater problem. One part of our minds instinctively wants the ‘reward’ of drugs or alcohol while the conscious mind is aware of the consequences and risks.

As a result, those who don’t buy into the belief that addiction is a disease contend that it is “a primary process habit that powers the deliberative mind.” Put simply, they think that your impulses form habits that are too strong, over time, for your rational mind to turn down. Everyone is familiar with the experience of cravings, of being tempted by something, but we can usually overcome it with some convincing ourselves. Understanding addiction means understand that, when it comes to substances, it isn’t that easy.

Everyone has varying experiences with the pull of substances, what those habits amount to, and how they can begin to find relief. However, it’s still crucial to try and understand the core of what drives addiction. There’s no telling how long it will be before we can all agree on a ‘definition’ of addiction, and until then, it will continue to be difficult to talk about this epidemic.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction and need professional aid, then 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 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.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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