The nature of addiction has now become a hot topic of controversy among experts and the general public.
Is it a sickness that warps a person’s brain and removes choice from the equation?
Or, is it a decision that a person makes and continues to make that locks them into addiction?
These are the two sides of the addiction debate, and the outcome determines how medical practitioners should approach addiction therapy.
Infinite Recovery provides drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Austin, and even their treatment approach differs when they think of addiction as a choice than as a disease.
It’s because if addiction is a choice, the person needs more mental therapy sessions to turn to healthier habits, but if it is a disease, the treatment will be based on more physical therapy sessions.
The Misconception Of Addiction
The term addiction is frequently misinterpreted.
Some claim that addiction is a personal decision and that everyone who is hooked on a chemical does so because of a lack of self-control or morality.
Others, on the other hand, say that addiction is a sickness that cannot be healed or even resisted just by discipline.
The first perspective has been the most widespread understanding of addiction throughout history. Unfortunately, as a result, persons who battle with substance usage are typically stigmatized, preventing them from getting assistance readily.
This stigma associated with addiction arose due to the people who were impacted by it, such as those from certain socioeconomic classes or nationalities.
Substance misuse has always been more prevalent among people with lower financial status, social backdrop, or those with lower levels of education.
Because the scientists and researchers of the period were from a higher socioeconomic class where addiction was less widespread, they concluded that poverty and a lack of education were the reasons why these people were more prone to acquire an addiction.
While this stigma persists today, contemporary addiction can impact anybody from any financial level, ethnicity, or background. Some drugs are just one usage to send a person down the wrong path, and even legal substances like prescription opioids may rapidly lead to addiction if misused.
Addiction As A Disease
Addiction has been labeled as a sickness rather than a behavioral choice by researchers in recent decades.
This decision is mostly based on how addiction changes the brain, gradually causing an individual to want the drug until use becomes an unconscious behavior rather than a conscious choice.
When a person abuses a substance or uses prescription pharmaceuticals on a regular basis for an extended period, their body adapts to account for its presence to maintain homeostasis or balance.
Over time, this leads to tolerance, which is when the body has adjusted to the point that the individual will need to take more of their preferred medicine to have the same results. This pushes them to misuse the substance even more, and the individual’s brain, nervous system, and heart health start to deteriorate as a result.
This eventually develops into dependency, which means their body has been transformed to the point where it can no longer operate correctly without their preferred chemical.
If they stop using, they will suffer from a sequence of unpleasant side effects known as withdrawal, which will last until their bodies readjust to their natural condition without drugs or until they start using again. Since the first choice might take several days or weeks to complete, many individuals choose the second because it is less unpleasant.
By selecting this option, the individual enters a downward spiral of addiction.
During this time, the portion of the brain responsible for selecting whether or not to take the drug moves from the front to the back, which is responsible for controlling unconscious actions such as breathing and blinking, as well as fundamental urges such as hunger.
As a result, drug misuse is inextricably tied to their brain and is not a choice.
Addiction As A Choice
Beyond the stigma, there is a subset of researchers who are adamant that addiction is a choice and who back up their claim with facts.
Behavioral scientists support this claim predominantly, and their opinion is founded on the premise that every activity capable of stimulating a person for pleasure or stress relief has the danger of addiction.
This implies that nearly anything, whether drugs, food, or just spending time on the internet, may lead to addiction. One of their most prevalent claims is that social media addiction is a problem. Many individuals have been addicted to social media since it has become a mainstay in modern culture.
This theory is primarily founded on the premise that when a person engages in a pleasurable activity, it activates pleasure in the brain and becomes a habitual behavior over time. These activities, like waking up at the same time every day for work, may easily become habitual over time.
From a psychological aspect, when this occurs, the brain has established particular pathways for the action to make it an easier trigger for the individual’s positive stimuli.
These behavioral experts suggest that addiction is a matter of repeated choice rather than an illness since drug use typically results in a wave of pleasure or, at the very least, a respite from a bad emotion.
The fundamental distinction is that these habits form faster and become stronger than they would normally because they are linked to pleasure, which is the brain’s natural agent for telling the body what is good or bad for survival.
If an addict can discover the self-control to cease using their preferred substance, this belief system predicts that the brain will totally heal from addiction and go on with life as if it never happened.
Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others.
Discovering whether there is a history of prior addiction in a person’s family is one of the most prevalent markers for assessing if they are at risk for addiction. However, if the choice were the primary element in addiction, a person’s family history would have minimal influence on their chances of being hooked as well.
A critical aspect to remember is that pleasure in this circumstance does not have to be pleasure in the classic sense; rather, the pleasant stimulus would be a better fit.
Hence, addiction is more inclined toward being a disease than being a choice.