Understanding Drug Addiction Treatment Means Treating It As A Disease
Surrounding the difficulty in understanding addiction is perhaps the most harmful stigma any disease has faced. Many attribute substance abuse and chronic cases of addiction as a willful choice of those suffering from it. Extensive research annihilates this notion and attributes addiction as both a physical and psychological disease, with roots in one’s genetic lineage.
Addiction is no more a choice than cancer is.
Without understanding this fundamental principle, one cannot only successfully recover from addiction, but will not take the steps to understanding why the condition has been allowed to manifest. This crux of psychological (and perhaps physical) unrest holds the key to treating the condition, allowing the development of new skills to replace harmful behaviors.
Conversely, those on the outside will continue to devalue the condition. Understanding addiction is critical to avoid this.
It is not only those on the outside looking in who refuse to credit addiction as a medical condition; those in the midst of the disorder are sometimes in the most pointed denial.
Addiction Is Not a Fallacy of Morals
Addressing yet another supposed trope of addiction, people with substance use disorders do not suffer from an abnegation of morals. “Addicts” and substance abusers stumble upon addictive substances in search of solace from their internal struggles or external environments.
Those raised in communities where drug use is high, is more apt to follow in the same footsteps. Addiction is as much a matter of environment as it is genetic predisposition. Conversely, those outside of this classification demonstrate the third aspect present in the development of substance use disorders:
An inability to manage depression, anxiety, self-hate, and rage.
Bereft the necessary life skills to process, and redress, ill emotions, one seeks anything to whisk emotional unrest from their lives. In America, where instant gratification reigns supreme, taking illicit substances (which, depending on how they are taken, will determine the rate of which the effects are felt) becomes immediate second nature.
Addiction Is Psychological
Understanding addiction even goes a step further. As much as addiction is physical, the condition maligns the mind, ensnaring every waking thought to one focal point of existence: getting more drugs.
The psychological aspect of addiction is a gripping one, because those suffering through addiction will always believe they cannot function without their drug of choice- even if the substance has not yet crippled the body into physical dependence.
Beyond this, when taken, addictive substances force the brain to produce bursts of serotonin and dopamine- the “feel-good” neurotransmitters which help us feel happy, fulfilled, and content with life. This bridges the psychological aspect of the disease to physical manifestation.
Addiction Is Self-Medication
Returning to the discussion of the crux of addiction, or the catalysts behind the disease, addiction is a means of self-medication- or a way for those to escape their inner demons. Initial substance abuse (and thereafter) are cries for help, and a sure sign those experimenting with the substances, and continuing to use them during problem times (like problem drinking) are unequipped with healthy skills of self-expression.
Therefore, not only does addiction stem in genetics, the physical body, environment, and the mind, but also exists in the stifled development of life skills.
Addiction Is Treatable
Despite the varied causes of addiction, ultimately cementing the disease, akin to most medical ailments, there exists the silver lining of treatment! Rehabilitation reconstructs the mind, and through cognitive behavioral therapy, helps to eradicate problem behavior, discover the sources of addiction to eliminate them, and ultimately teaches “addicts” how to change their perspectives on life, and assume modes of thinking and self-expression that will forever change their lives.