Why Addiction Is a Disease and Not a Personal Choice

Why Addiction Is a Disease and Not a Personal Choice

The attitude of the vast majority of people towards destructive addictions is still based on the belief that their formation is exclusively a person’s personal choice. This distinguishes dependence on most diseases. It is unlikely that there will be many people who are sincerely convinced that, a peptic ulcer appears only in those who themselves want it. 

This attitude is beginning to change, especially in the light of sociological and medical research. They indicate that any addiction is not always a consequence of a lack of will. There is both a predisposition to addiction and social factors that push a person to its formation. Does this give an undeniable right to say that addicts are not guilty of their addiction, just as a diabetic is not guilty of their diabetes? And what is the true reason for addiction?

Addiction as a Genetic Failure

Studying the question of whether a person can be programmed for any kind of dependence from birth, the National Center for Biotechnological Information came to the conclusion that genetics is at least 50% responsible for predisposing to addiction. Another study calls similar figures which are 40-60% but these findings report only potential vulnerabilities. 

By themselves, they do not confirm or deny that addiction is what a person chooses. Predisposition does not mean either the disease itself or a tendency to a specific addiction.

Addiction as a Social Phenomenon

There are many historical examples of how poverty, unemployment, and social depression proved to be an ideal environment for the distribution of hard drugs. Whether it’s the 80s US crack epidemic or the heroin plague in Thatcher’s Britain’s dying industrial cities where drug rehabilitation centers were overcrowded.

From the more recent, the global economic crisis of 2008 can be distinguished. It entailed progressive unemployment in European countries, followed by an increase in the use of cannabinoids.

Sociological calculations unambiguously talk only about the relationship between dependence and social depression. Poverty contributes to an increase in the number of addictions which leads to further impoverishment. To determine the cause, it is necessary to consider the case of each person individually and in detail. 

The second factor which is also worth considering is that social disorder can encourage the development of addiction and accelerate self-destruction but not be its cause. If a person was born and raised in a dysfunctional environment, this does not mean that he will certainly become dependent.

Addiction as a Defensive Psychological Response

Drug addiction should be considered along with other addictions, focusing on its psychological aspect. But it is usually separated from other addictions and compulsive disorders and considered as a set of reactions and behaviors that are caused by a particular substance. 

Most addicted people usually have some kind of childhood injury. For them, addiction is an attempt to self-medicate. It’s worth focusing on identifying this injury. This is not necessarily a childhood trauma and can be a social trauma, the disorder associated with the organization of modern society and realize oneself. A person cannot cope with this and not because of weakness but because life is complicated. Addiction is a response to external circumstances.

Addiction as a Stigma

Without justifying the harm that addictive behavior causes and without removing personal liability from addicted people, it is worth getting rid of common misconceptions regarding addiction itself. The psychological approach to addiction partially solves this problem. Addicted people are usually treated like weak-willed puppets. This stereotype continues to live despite the fact that in reality, the addict can be a very concentrated and purposeful person.

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