Over the years, the disease of addiction has taken on many definitions and many negative stereotypes. We’ve heard it’s a ‘lack of control’ or a ‘willpower issue’ – but thanks to scientific research about drug addiction, we have learned that the disease of addiction is really the disease of the brain.
Even with the widespread awareness from 12-Step programs, the negative stereotypes and societal beliefs about addiction still surface. Addicts have been pegged as delinquents, criminals, unemployed, dirty, homeless, junkies, free loaders and more.The truth of the matter is the disease of addiction has not, will not and does not discriminate. Those diagnosed with the disease of addiction are just like us. They are the dads, and soccer moms, they hold high-powered jobs, own businesses, belong to country clubs, own cars, they go to work every day and even vote. We have seen that eventually the disease of addiction will intertwine and destruct their lives. If they don’t choose to get help many will lose everything they have.
To simplify, the disease of addiction can be defined as “a chronic brain disease that causes people to lose their ability to resist a craving, despite negative physical, personal, or social consequences.” (The Anatomy of Addiction, n.d.) Whatever the choice of the addict: Alcohol, drugs, gambling, or food, when an addict gives in to these cravings, chemicals travel (with substance addiction, through the blood) to key brain regions that generate the feel good, happy, at-peace or ‘high’ feeling. Over time, the smart brain figures it needs “more of” (insert addiction choice here) to actually hit the ‘high’. True addicts must then take in more of the substance or activity to achieve that feeling. In addition, when they try to stop, they cannot. When an addict’s craving is so powerful and the urge is so strong, they then give into their addiction and consequences mean nothing.
Just like those sick with diabetes, cancer, ALS and epilepsy, an addict is just as sick. They deserve and need professional help to manage life with this disease of addiction.
*The Anatomy of Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved September 3, 2015.