The Discovery House Blog

Substance Addiction: Exploring the Disease Model of Addiction

April 14, 2016 Addiction Education

Even though the drug problem in our country has hit epidemic status, there is still so much that people don’t understand about substance addiction. A lot of people still adhere to the idea that addiction is a choice and that an addict simply lacks morals. They deserve what they have because they made the choice to be there. Many people also think that, since an addict chooses to do drugs or drink alcohol, that if they really wanted to stop they could simply choose that and it would be done. But, as it turns out, there is so much more to it than that.

Substance Addiction: Exploring the Disease Model of Addiction

Understanding the Stigma of Substance Addiction

Thanks in huge part to the media, when you think about addiction you are likely going to associate it with crime, homelessness, or violence. However, the increasing numbers and evidential research show that substance addiction is much more far reaching. It is no longer limited to city backstreets and rundown neighborhoods but it’s all around the country from cities to rural parts and even suburban areas. Addiction does not discriminate.

What is the Disease Model of Addiction?

Research from the last thirty years has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and has proven addiction as a complex brain disease that is driven by the compulsive seeking of drugs and use of said drugs with little to no regard to the consequences to the addict or those around them.

Since we’ve had such major advancements in technology and science, we’ve had the chance to learn a lot about addiction and how it really works. We know more now than we ever have before and we also know that long-term recovery is possible through successful (and scientifically proven) addiction treatment methods and therapies.

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Why Do People Become Addicted?

While many people, young and old, may choose to experiment with drugs or alcohol, you’d be hard pressed to find an addict who chose this way of life. Substance abuse has been long portrayed in the media as a moral failing and it’s not uncommon for some people to think that addicts choose to be an addict. There are a few major factors involved in how a person gets addicted and why they can’t simply stop using.

Biology

A select percentage of addicts are genetically predisposed to have chemical or addictive behaviors but trauma also plays a large part in why someone may become addicted to one substance or another. Many behaviors and responses of the addict are ways of adapting to and coping with past traumatic experiences.

Environment

There are also social aspects like peer pressures or trying to keep with familial norms that could lead to problems with drugs or alcohol.

Development

Taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction as well as other health issues, the earlier someone starts abusing drugs, the more likely they are to be lead to addictive behaviors later on in life. The mind of an adolescent is still developing, specifically the parts that are in charge of decision making, judgment, and self-control making early drug use detrimental to overall brain development.

Recovery from Drugs and Alcohol is Possible

Although addiction is a disease, recovery is totally possible. With the right drug addiction treatment and recovery support, those who suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol can find long-term recovery.

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