Science has confirmed that addiction is a chronic brain disease that can happen to anyone. Despite this, there is still popular belief that addiction is the result of weak character or moral failing. But, is addiction is a disease or a choice?
As with every binary debate, the only two options seem to be:
- You’re a victim and it’s not your fault for being addicted
- It’s all your fault and you need to take responsibility
Despite the science seeming to support the idea that addiction is a disease, many don’t agree with this. Why?
Support for Addiction
While you may not know where to begin, online therapy may be the solution you need. You can get the help and support that you need to help battle the addiction you have.
Why People Believe Addiction is a Choice
Here are a few reasons why people believe that drug addiction is a choice:
- First, the general stigma towards drug addiction. We live in a nation where there is a war on drugs, and people who are addicted to drugs, especially illegal ones, are seen as less people
- The obvious reason is that the person chose to take the drug, alcohol or other substance. While their brains may be warped towards that substance over time, in the beginning, they made the choice
- And finally, because some people get better without treatment. A few people who claim addiction is a choice have testified that they used to be an addict once, but they chose to quit
For some people, this is sound logic. However, here are a few reasons why this isn’t the case.
Many Diseases Can Be Interpreted as Choices
It’s a little interesting how society views addiction as a choice, but not any other disease. Often times, heart disease is a result of poor health choices. STDs are usually a result of having unsafe sex and choosing partners who are unclean. Diabetes can be the result of poor life choices.
Even something like the common cold can be interpreted as a choice. You chose to be around people who may have been contagious.
It goes back to the stigma rule. Most people have a bias towards substance abuse.
Your Genetics Play a Part
Your genetics play a huge part in whether or not you will be addicted. Some people can binge drink a week straight on a vacation and not feel the urge to drink once they return home. Others can have just a teensy drop of beer and they’re an alcoholic.
Genetics play half the part, and that’s definitely not a choice. You can look at your family history and try to avoid substances you may become addicted to based off that, but sometimes, that’s not accurate, either.
It Changes the Brain
When you’re addicted, the brain changes. The addiction can take control of the chemicals that are associated with happiness, and you have to have alcohol or drugs to feel like a normal human being. When you don’t get it, the brain can go haywire, from making you lose sleep to, in some rare cases, killing you if you don’t have a monitored withdrawal. You may lose your friends and family, and have no other person to help you. However, there are resources out there to help discuss all things related to the family unit or motherhood.
What makes addiction even more terrifying is that it is easy to rewire your brain for addiction, but it takes a long time to change it back.
People Can Be Addicted to Anything
First, you can become addicted to legal drugs, like pain pills and other prescriptions. Your addiction doesn’t even have to be a drug. Most people who condemn addicts are probably addicted to social media, or a more normalized drug like caffeine. With that said…
Addicts Need Help, Not Shame
Indeed, when a person drinks alcohol or tries a drug for the first time, it’s a choice and an addict should have some responsibility. However, shaming them is not the way you go about it.
Instead, show empathy. Promote help, and have treatment options available.
It can be hard for us to unlearn our dislike of addicts, but by educating yourself, you can get past those biases.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and we have been compensated through BetterHelp.com.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.