A major public health crisis, addiction affects people of all socioeconomic levels, ethnicities, geographical locations, ages, genders, etc. It knows no boundaries. Although scientific research has helped to decrease the stigma surrounding addiction and drug use, people continue to debate what causes addiction and how it is best treated. We address five commonly debated points below.
Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?
Many medical and psychiatric organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organization, agree that addiction is a disease, specifically a chronic brain disorder. Studies and research show that when a person abuses or becomes addicted to drugs, changes occur in their brain’s circuitry. The changes cause self-destructive, harmful behaviors and long-term side effects.
While people make the initial choice to take a drink or try a drug, they can all too easily and quickly become physically dependent. The drug hijacks the brain and makes it extremely difficult to stop using without professional intervention.
Should a Person with Drug Addiction be Treated or Punished?
Many people believe that anyone addicted to illegal drugs should be incarcerated because they have broken the law. But incarceration does nothing to help the person overcome the addiction. Other people feel that court-ordered addiction treatment is the best way to deal with the problem. And indeed, studies have shown that those who received treatment without incarceration were more motivated to change their behavior and experienced fewer social problems.
Does a Person have to Hit Rock Bottom Before They Can Get Well?
The longer a person waits to get into treatment, the sicker they become. Hitting rock bottom occurs when a person suffers horrible consequences of addiction. For example, they may lose their family, job, or home; overdose; get arrested; or get into an accident. Each of these events may be rock bottom for someone, but they can also be life-threatening and traumatic. The damage caused could be irreparable. A person generally does best in treatment when they recognize they have a problem and want to change.
Does having a Substance Use Disorder Mean You are Weak?
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, many people still hold to the outdated notion that addiction is a moral failing. They believe addiction is only a problem for homeless people, criminals, or those with a low income. Medical research shows that addiction is a disease, and anyone from any walk of life or any personality type can fall victim to it.
Are Sober Living Homes a Good Thing for a Neighborhood?
Sober living homes have been the center of controversy for many years. Some people believe that sober living homes would be bad for their neighborhood. They do not want “those people” living near them. But sober living homes are, for many people, an essential part of the recovery process. They provide a safe place for people to transition from treatment centers back into society. Sober living homes provide residents with structure, rules, and a sense of community.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. At English Mountain Recovery Center, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, medical and therapeutic professionals will help you as you travel the road to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.