Addiction: Is It A Disease Or A Choice?

  Apr 19, 2024

Is addiction a disease or a choice? Now, this is one of those topics that gets somebody heated with conflicting views. On one side, you’ve got the medical experts saying addiction rewires your brain and robs you of control, so it’s a legitimate condition. 

But then others argue that it all starts with a desire to pick up that drink or drug in the first place. Where do you stand on this one? 

Meanwhile, research and input from some authorities, medical doctors, neuroscientists, and experts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse classified it as a disease.

The fact that it takes a toll on your mental health and may get transformed into an uncontrolled habit that disrupts day-to-day functioning clearly positions it as a form of disease. 

Before you make up your mind, let’s dive into the key arguments from both sides. 

Arguments For Addiction As A Disease

Having said that, some hold the belief that it is a medical condition, so, why do some experts consider it a disease?

Brain Changes

There has been ongoing research on brain modifications by Scientists for years. Their studies show that repeated drug use leads your brain to release a flood of dopamine, resulting in fuel cravings and creating a habit loop. These addictive behaviors rewire those neural pathways that regulate pleasure, motivation, and all that good stuff.

Do You Know?:
In 2021, approximately, 32,537 people died from an overdose involving psychostimulants other than Cocaine.

In time, addictive behavior hijacks your brain’s reward circuitry, or decision-making ability and makes it even harder to stop cravings and control bad habits. 

And here’s the real kicker —  there is a myth that avoiding them makes a person healthy in a couple of days. The reality is different, even after you stop using, those changes can stick around for a long time and make the healing process pretty tough. 

Loss Of Control

The Cycle of Addiction

Have you ever tried to kick a bad habit to the curb, only to find yourself slipping right back into those old patterns time and time again? That’s annoying, right? Anyway, imagine that struggle, but amplified by the powerful grip of habit.

For many people out there, the continuous usage and engagement in bad habits make them overwhelmed. To some extent, they even lose their ability to understand the further negative consequences on their health. 

Genetics And Vulnerability

Studies have shown that there’s a strong hereditary genetic component concerning a person’s risk of developing an obsession. Take note, that doesn’t mean genes alone are responsible for making you an addict. 

On the contrary, it does mean that some individuals are starting with a heightened vulnerability.

How is this possible? Maybe their brain is not capable of producing enough dopamine naturally. In such conditions, they’re more prone to seeking out that dopamine rush from drugs or addictive activities. 

Or maybe their genes code for fewer dopamine receptors, making it harder for their brain to catch that natural high. 

Whatever the specifics, the point is — genetics can make someone addicted before they even take that first hit or pull that first lever.

Medical Model Promotes Effective Treatment

Here is a thing, when disorders are seen through medical lenses, some conclude it as a condition that is influenced by biology as well as environmental factors. This view paves the way for a whole new world of effective treatment possibilities. 

Instead of just saying “Hey, make better decisions!” you are supposed to take an evidence-based approach that tackles both the biological and behavioral aspects of the condition. 

But what is it? There is no rocket science in comprehending evidence-based approaches. It just includes taking medications that help addictive beings rebalance their out-of-whack cognitive chemical, and therapy techniques to overcome past toxic patterns and rebuild control over one’s thoughts. 

That said, seeking professional help may go a long way in getting you sober. You can start by looking up the cost of rehab in Ontario or other places near you and weighing your options. This simple step can be the difference maker in your quest for soberness.

Arguments for Addiction As A Choice

Beyond the stigma, there’s also the case for viewing it as a choice rather than a disease. But why this view?

The Initial Decision

Here, we are talking about your first move towards bad habits. The fact that nobody gets hooked on drugs or caught in a cycle of addictive behaviors without making that first decision. The fateful decision to pick up that substance or engage in that activity is what makes folks addicted. 

Initially, it seems fun or intriguing. So, this is why people do not even consider understanding the potential consequences when they make that initial call. 

Fast Fact:
As per the survey, about 45% of American adults admit to trying Marijuana.

Maybe they think they can handle it, and feel in charge. Or maybe they’re self-medicating trauma or mental health issues without realizing the Pandora’s box they’re opening.

But at the end of the day, it is a matter of preference. Nobody is pushing you towards it, you’re the one who is considering taking them. 

Unlike things that are completely out of our control like genetic predispositions, nobody is forcing that addictive substance or behavior on somebody at the very start. 

The Effort Of Recovery

We know healing is always challenging. It seems an uphill battle that requires serious discipline, commitment, and intentional preferences. A great way to begin your journey toward recovery is by incorporating Detoxify Mega Clean products into your routine. This powerful detoxification product can assist your body in returning to a healthier state and repairing the effects of addiction. Coupled with positive lifestyle changes and therapy, it becomes a valuable tool for wellness and healing.

No going back, when you have decided to enroll in a treatment program, stick to a therapy regimen, attend support group meetings, and more. 

From that perspective, you can’t deny that there’s a major “choice” component to habit. 

Sure, maybe that initial decision to try drugs or alcohol might have been made naively. But what comes after? 

The descent into full-blown obsession, and then the long, arduous journey of healing? Those are all defined by the decisions the addict makes, one way or another.

Environment and Social Circles

Let’s understand with an example, when a kid grows up in a community or has a friend circle encouraging widespread abuse, there are chances that he/she may also adopt bad habits. Similarly, being a part of a social circle or growing up in an environment that normalizes risky addictions can shape one’s preferences around drugs. 

The same is true for high-stress environments that push individuals to find unhealthy coping mechanisms.

percentage of illicit drug

The stats mentioned above highlight the percentage of illicit drug use in the global population in 2021. According to these stats, it is estimated that 0.72 to 1.49% of the global population between 15 and 64 years of age have used opioids in the past year.

No matter what, at the end of the day, everyone has at least some degree of authority over them or those environmental and social influences. 

Maybe not 100%, but enough agency to make decisions that limit their exposure to those risk factors.

Choosing to remove yourself from a toxic friend group? Shifting to a less tumultuous living situation? 

Simply being more intentional about how you spend your time and who you spend it with? Those are all choices well within an individual’s power to deal with addiction.

The Role Of Personal Accountability

 Maintaining Personal Accountability in the Long Run

It’s empowering to know that even when you can’t control everything, you do have the ability to make choices that can change your reality. 

When you acknowledge that habit isn’t just some unavoidable destiny, but rather a battle that requires your committed effort and a strength of will, it becomes a call to take ownership of your recovery journey. 

You have to be the one to choose to seek help, to choose to make lifestyle changes, to ultimately choose to claw your way out of that dark place.

Does that mean healing is easy? Of course not. However, recognizing the element of personal preference involved can give addicts a profound sense of agency and influence over their own lives that they may have felt were completely lost to the addict’s illness.

In Closing

At the end of the day, this disease vs choice debate isn’t an either/or situation. There are biological predispositions. But there are also a series of actions that lie at the root of obsession and the path out of it. 

Regardless, addiction may be terribly hard, but overcoming it through the power of personal decision-making? 

That’s the ultimate show of strength. So if you view addictive behavior as a condition, a choice, or some combination of the two, one thing’s for sure — seeking help is always a good call.