Addiction is a word I hear thrown around frequently, probably because one of my favorite shows is Intervention, so yeah that makes sense. Yet we’ve all known someone or many who has have issues fighting against this thing called addiction. I know I have. It’s devastating to witness or fully understand unless you’ve been addicted to something or someone before… which means we all have experienced this. Whether it be to an individual or food, or to something that you drift to make you disappear from your reality.So the question of the day is, is an addiction a choice or is it a brain disease?
As I read through my discussion post of my Addiction and Addictive Behavior course that I just started, it sparked a large discussion in my mind about whether addiction is a choice or a disease. Grad school will do that to you. I entered the mental health field because of my direct experiences with mental illness and how at a young age I was made to assist someone close to me who is mentally ill. Addiction always fascinated me, because I consider it to be… a door that should never be opened, yeah that’s what I’ll call it for now.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated that in 2014 “2.7% of individuals aged 12 or older in the United States (an estimated 7.1 million individuals) were dependent on or abused illicit drugs in the year prior to being surveyed”. and to be clear addiction is described as a chronic and relapsing brain disease as described in the article entitled, Views of Addiction Neuroscientists and Clinicians on the Clinical Impact of a ‘Brain Disease Model of Addiction’. Yet, I don’t want to format in APA style unless I have to but I value referencing information (side note). Once an addict, always an addict, it’s something that must be “worked on” for a lifetime. Diabetes type 1 is also a lifelong disease that must be monitored and treated daily, so what’s the difference? The difference is one is introduced and the other is biologically created, but what if addiction is in the family, then is it genetically prepositioned? According to authors of article, The Media and Behavioral Genetics: Alternatives coexisting with Addiction Genetics, “The ‘‘disease of the brain’’ model for addiction includes a predictive component: scientists estimate that 40 percent to 60 percent of individual vulnerability to addiction resides in our genes (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA] 2007)”. So if addiction resides within our genes how much of a choice do we have to avoid it? Rhetorical of course.
Many people choose drugs/alcohol to cover up damage created from their youth or life in general and get lost trying to cover their issues, others get stuck in the experimental world of living wild and reckless, I won’t be the judge. I just want to understand you better, them better, everyone better, honestly. I am addicted to snacking and I try to stay mindful of it and I’m even an addict of napping because it makes me feel great when I wake up. I’m more energized and ready for the world, yet what makes me different from the woman who smokes meth for days on end and gets stuck in a psychosis state, or the man who can’t shake his heroin addict to numb the pain of being molested as a child? Is it because I’m able to live a responsible or productive lifestyle in spite of my addictions? We’re all motivated to do whatever makes us happy, but are addicts truly happy or are they stuck within a choice, or their disease?