Drug addiction viewed as a disease?

2 years, 4 months ago

Hey friends!

So today in my Human Services class we had a guest speaker talk about addiction and working with people who suffer from addictions. She said that (with no room to disagree) addictions are diseases, comparing them even to cancer and diabetes.

Well, although I didn’t bring it up to her (it’s a fairly short class and she didn’t have much time to complete her presentation) I disagree. I see addiction as a consequence to a choice. Most people (not including kids exposed at young ages) are aware of the dangerous side effects of many drugs prior to actually trying them, therefore, I believe it cannot be considered a disease.

What do you guys think? This is a huge debate in the psychological realm and really fascinates me. Also, I’m not trying to undermine the tragedy of being addicted to any substance, just looking into how others see addiction.

Thanks! <3

November 19, 2012 at 11:20 pm

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Profile photo of Nick Nick (@splashartist) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@laurenlouise, Let’s simplify this matter for you. Look at the word disease. Now, break it into two parts. Dis-ease= not being at ease. Anything which aligns with this can be considered a disease in my opinion.

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Profile photo of Lauren Lauren (@laurenlouise) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@splashartist, But the word disease has a different meaning to most, and that is the … idea I’m referring to. We can use a different word if you would like.

@irea, I agree! I believe there needs to be some responsibility given to the individual!

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Profile photo of Zane Zane (@albinomongoose) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

I don’t like the term either. It’s not congruent with any other ‘disease’ (except perhaps obesity, but I don’t really think that’s one either) and imo, is just a convenient euphemism. America loves euphemisms if you haven’t noticed. And I’m not some straight-edge-agenda-pushing-do-gooder, I actually take pretty lenient stance towards drugs, I just think that we should be more clear in our terminology. If I was a conspirator this is when I’d say that they call it disease just to make more money on drugs, like methadone (ironic), and treatment. I also believe the condition isn’t genetic; it’s mostly based on childhood experiences.

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Addiction is like anything else, There is a continuum in human behavior and at an arbitrary point society has decided that it is a disease. Which is a bummer for everyone just before that point.

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Profile photo of ELizard ELizard (@heavydreamz) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

People meet their expectations. If you expect a person to stay hooked on drugs they just might have to join your cult.

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Profile photo of TheSkaFish TheSkaFish M (@theskafish) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@laurenlouise, it’s a consequence to a choice, yes, but I don’t think we should be putting people in jail for it. They aren’t going to get any help there.

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Profile photo of Dan Dan (@danfontaine) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

I’d say it’s more like a mental affliction and basically everyone on this planet has it. It manifests differently in everyone. It’s basically neediness – the opposite of gratitude.
It’s like gluttony, sloth, lust and greed rolled into one.

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Profile photo of Ray Butler Ray Butler M (@trek79) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

Using drugs is not a problem until it is an addiction. Addiction by definition (paraphrase, or sum up) is a reduction of freedom, an inability to make objective choices, especially those that adversely effect others. As the situation is defined as a limitation on freedom, then no freedom is lost by intervention, but rather the opposite, intervention provides the opportunity to return freedom to the strickened.

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Profile photo of Ray Butler Ray Butler M (@trek79) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

But having said that, drugs are by far NOT the only addictive situation, if everything is recommended in moderation it suggests everything is a risk of addiction.

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Profile photo of Obviously, you're not a golfer Obviously, you’re not a golfer (@donjaime23) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@laurenlouise, My opinion is that addiction is NOT a disease. It’s a symptom of deeper underlying issue.

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Profile photo of Lauren Lauren (@laurenlouise) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@donjaime23, Agreed!!

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Profile photo of Zack Armstrong Zack Armstrong (@lifetimeclimber) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@laurenlouise, Reminds me of the southpark episode where Stan finds out he is an alcoholic and that it’s not an addiction but a disease. He starts demanding special treatment and all other absurd shit and acts like he has no control over his “disease.” I agree with Jameson though, it’s the result of an underlying issue. Addiction changes brain chemistry also, which could be an explanation as to why it’s so hard to quit and people feel powerless over their addiction.

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Profile photo of Lauren Lauren (@laurenlouise) 2 years, 4 months ago ago

@lifetimeclimber, Hahahaha! What a great example!

I think a huge reason why addiction is so challenging to overcome is because those underlying issues aren’t dealt with. I see addiction as a symptom, not an actual issue necessarily.

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Profile photo of tralittxioma Anonymous (@) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

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Profile photo of Samantha Samantha (@sammomantha) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

I don’t agree with the disease model. In a way, it takes away the power from someone who has an addiction.

There are many reasons why people become drug addicts, and I think there are varying degrees of addiction, and it can be hard to classify addiction. I think sometimes Psychology is far too simplistic. It tries to categorize absolutely everything and everyone.

Everyone will respond to different things differently. Everyone has different reasons for their responses to things. Including addiction. There is no one model fits all approach in my opinion. But…that’s just my opinion.

However, I really don’t agree with the disease model. I thought they stopped teaching that years ago.

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Profile photo of Ray Butler Ray Butler M (@trek79) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

@sammomantha, Yes, everyone is different, that is why psychologists work on the individual level. Generalizations are just guidelines that are found to be common, but not everyone is common. Diseases are basically harmful, and people who are addicted generally behave in a harmful manner, either they directly harm others (with violence, theft, etc) or they harm themselves in such a way that they neglect their responsibilities and become a burden on others, people have to make all kinds of effort to keep them alive and remind them of what is expected of them.
So not a disease? Sure, if there is no obvious side effects in behaviour, but addicted people will go to extra-ordinary lengths to fulfill their desires, a constant potential for harm and a clear obstacle to objectivity. Wanting someone to make reasonably objective choices is not an attempt at control but an attempt to restore self-control in someone. This is called caring, not just for the addicted but for anyone who may be adversely effected by the addicted.

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

I have been to rehab twice. I believe it is a disease.
It’s a neurological disease (i.e. alcoholism, hypoxia, schizophrenia) and not a physical disease (i.e. cancer, diabetes, the flu).
There is genetics to be considered – over 85% of alcoholics have an alcoholic parent or a very close relative (not close in the sense living together but by bloodline).
People seem to think that addiction is about will power. It is not that simple.
The physical dependence is only secondary, the dependence is a complication of the neurological disorder.

I really find it quite condescending of people who think that it’s a simple choice.
You have no idea what you are talking about. Every day is a battle to stay clean.
Just like certain sickness, you need “maintenance”. You don’t just magically get cured.

Here’s an idea, volunteer some time at a rehab… talk to an addict, talk to councilors, a psychologist who specializes in addiction. Learn something new.

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Profile photo of CaoimheS CaoimheS (@caoimhesweeney) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t8pa1LXFnQ I think this is a god debate on the issue

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Profile photo of Kat Kat (@kcv213) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

So, I just typed you a short book about addiction and then it disappeared because of computer problems. It’s too much to retype so I’m just going to say, PLEASE read the book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate (http://www.amazon.com/Realm-Hungry-Ghosts-Encounters-Addiction/dp/155643880X). It is the most intelligent, comprehensive, thoughtful and compassionate text I have ever encountered about addiction. I think it will give you a fresh perspective for understanding the disorder and how it is not totally a disease comparable to cancer BUT it cannot be chocked up solely to will power. It is a very complex affliction that affects too many people in our society and it’s going to take a lot of work on their part, and on the part of society as a whole, to fix it.

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Profile photo of Kat Kat (@kcv213) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

@kcv213, ALSO if anyone in this thread reads or has read this book, let me know! I’d love to chat about it

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Profile photo of  Anonymous (@) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

@kcv213, I have. And thank you for recommending it.

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Profile photo of Kat Kat (@kcv213) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

@vinabeans, As someone who has experiences addiction and been to rehab, what did you think of the book? My mom has been struggling with addiction for years and years and has been to rehab multiple times and I suggested she read it but I’m not sure how she will feel about it since she will be reading it with a totally different perspective than I did.

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Profile photo of Tim Tim (@grimey) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

As an alcoholic/addict in recovery I can tell you it is not a consequence of a choice. Alcoholism is something you are born with. It is not a result of childhood experiences or traumatic events. Sure the drugs and alcohol hid the pain of the traumatic experiences I had as a child and continued to have throughout using, but that is not what drove my using. The alcoholic/addict defined in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is a person suffering from three points, an obsession of the mind, a phenomenon of craving, and a spiritual malady. For me the obsession of the mind consisted of always thinking about drugs, where to hide them, when I can get high again, ect. The phenomenon of craving is a physical reaction to drugs and alcohol. A simple way to explain the phenomenon of craving is right now I would not trade my family, friends, ect. for one shot of 151, but if I drank one shot of 151, I would give up everything for the second shot. It is nearly impossible to overcome the phenomenon of craving with willpower. The spiritual malady is similar to depression, but does not include a dopamine deficiency in the brain . It includes negative thoughts, terribly low self-esteem, ect. Keep in mind that physical dependency and addiction are different. As for the word “disease” I also don’t really throw around that term very much. There’s really no classification for it other than those three points. Technically speaking its a retardant.

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Profile photo of josephm josephm (@josephm) 2 years, 2 months ago ago

we are co-evolving with everything we come in contact with that can potentially benefit us in any way shape or form. take one thing out of moderation and the whole pyramid falls, even if it means having to try something to check it off the list. addiction is mental, addiction is over-connecting and relying on one particular thought pattern that is a deviant of the moderation pattern(rationalized usage) in some way shape or form but allows your mind to rationalize it if you have suicidal or schizophrenic tendencies because it is how our program rids itself of faulty code. every illness has a mind aspect regardless of if the effects are fully body. find enlightenment and you fulfill the full extent of your life regardless of how long you live.

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/374386_10151122565816010_1181189929_n.jpg

being born with something, and honestly learning the wrong way are very different.

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