Over the years, this debate has been argued many times and is still being argued as to whether or not addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disease. Some people are of the opinion that drug or alcohol addiction is a disease, while some say it’s not a disease but a mere loss of control of one’s morals. To understand why it is considered a disease more than the latter concept, you will have to continue reading this article.
Table of Contents
- What Is A Disease?
- Drug/Alcohol Addiction
- How Is Addiction Identified?
- Causes of Addiction
- How does Addiction Affect The Brain?
- Chemical Imbalance
- The Desire To Want More
- Bottom Line
What Is A Disease?
Start off by knowing what does the word disease means?
If you look up the word. You will see a meaning similar to this, that a disease is an abnormality affecting the body negatively, which is not due to a direct injury or infection, rather an elaborative response that develops with particular signs and symptoms showing the effect on the body of the person. So keeping this definition in mind, you can say the signs and symptoms of addiction which are affecting the body are no less than that of a disease.
The repeated usage of these substances results in addiction. Addiction is considered a disease because it affects the functions of the brain. And as mentioned above, the disease is any abnormality that affects the functions of the body. Thus, drug or alcohol addiction is no less or more than a disease.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol is basically the use of such substances that has caused a disorder in the function of the brain. These substances are compulsive in nature; they affect the abilities of the brain, manipulating its functions despite the negative consequences of the usage.
How Is Addiction Identified?
How does a person know he is addicted, or his loved ones know he is. Or in serious cases, how can a medical expert identify a person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Normally, the person is tested for the usage of drugs, but there are signs and symptoms of addiction. If you experience these in your loved one’s life, then you need to take necessary precautions to prevent them from addiction and keep yourself safe from their expected outlast at you, sooner or later. These signs are as follows;
1. Abuse Of Drugs Or Alcohol
When you know that a person is taking more than a drink or smoking more than a joint, or is involved in taking any other kinds of drugs in excessive amounts. Then the situation is alarming as they are abusing drugs or alcohol, and there is a greater sign of them being addicted to these substances.
2. Continuance Of Usage
If you notice that the usage of drugs and alcohol is in continuance despite the fact that there are negative consequences affecting the life of this person, yet he/she is unbothered by them. Then know, it is a sign of addiction. Such a person will continue taking drugs or alcohol despite the consequences.
3. Deteriorating Mental And Physical Health
You will sooner or later notice a big change in their behavior as well as their health, which is a sign of addiction as it deteriorates the physical and mental health of the person. Sure, drugs can be a temporary escape from the real problems, but when the usage continues, it becomes an addiction, causing serious health problems as well as mental problems.
Causes of Addiction
Often, it’s argued that addiction is not a disease as it is not contiguous or not transmitted from one person to another like other diseases, so it is labeled as a choice and loss of control, or having a weak morality. But the fact is that addiction has its causes like other diseases. Due to these causes, an individual is so keen on abusing drugs or alcohol, falling to addiction. Which damages the abilities of their body, like any other disease does. Some of the major and common causes of addiction are as follows;
1. Family/Friends Influence
An individual’s family and friends have a big impact on his/her life. If there is a history of drug abuse in family or friends, it is more likely for this person to fall to addiction as well.
As it’s said, a man is known by the company he keeps. If the family is excessively using drugs and has them exposed to the children, they will be tempted to do so too. The same is the case with friends.
2. Life Problems
Another cause of addiction is liver problems. Sometimes, when life gets tough, and you feel at rock bottom having no ray of hope, you are more inclined to escape from facing the reality, and to do that, you choose to do drugs or take alcohol. Obviously, after the effect wears off, you want to escape again and again. And so the cycle goes on, ending up with you developing an addiction to drugs. Instead of facing the problems and dealing with them, one chooses to escape reality by these compulsive substances.
3. Stress, Anxiety, or Depression
The most common cause of it is stress, anxiety, and depression. People with anxiety, stress, or depression, if clinically treated, are prescribed with medicine that has sedative chemicals to calm the nerves.
Oftentimes, people abuse these meds and take them in excessive amounts to try to make all of it stop, which is not the answer to it. This way, they develop an addiction to these meds and then moving on to drugs of higher intensity to satisfy their addiction.
4. Peer Pressure
Sadly, in today’s era, the use of drugs is considered somewhat cool. The teenagers and the youth of today are under this impression that the use of drugs is considered cool. So to keep up with the circle of such friends, or society, or to prove that you are nor prude, they end up doing drugs and eventually being addicted to them. Mostly, it happens in schools, colleges, parties where under the peer pressure, the youngster is influenced to do drugs.
How does Addiction Affect The Brain?
The major chemical responsible for the “good feeling” is dopamine. Our brains naturally release dopamine when we are happy or relaxed. When you take drugs, it mimics this chemical and manipulates the brain to trigger the release of dopamine in excessive amounts. So a competition between the natural pleasure and induced pleasure starts, in which the induced pleasure wins because of the continuance of abuse of drugs.
Since the release of chemicals in the brain is mimicked and done under the manipulation of drugs, there is a chemical imbalance created in the brain, which is the cause of the disorder of function and abilities. The chemicals released are reabsorbed instead of being recycled by the brain. So more dopamine is released, manipulating the brain that it is good, and so the person is inclined to take more drugs to satisfy the brain.
The Desire To Want More
The release of dopamine by drugs is obviously induced. When it happens once, the amount of drugs that induced it is not enough to induce more, so the person is eager to have more to release more dopamine. Which is why the amount of drug intake increases after every use. And an intense drug is craved and desired more after the use of one drug. To beat the release of the previous intake, they take more to satisfy the pleasure. And if not done so, it will cause severe depression, anger, and hatred.
Although some people find addiction as a weakness of moral values, unable to control one’s immoral desires, it is nonetheless a disease. As it affects the brain and body of the person to a point where he is unable to even think straight to stop the use of drugs. His brain does not function like a normal healthy person’s brain. His abilities are discouraged, which deteriorated both his physical and mental health. Despite these consequences, he is unable to stop himself from taking drugs, so yes, it is a disease. A disease that you sometimes make by choice, resulting in the disability of proper functioning of your body.
In addition, your brain is under the control of compulsive substances like drugs and alcohol, so an addicted person does not have the ability to think right for himself, let alone anything else. Be careful around drugs, avoid them at any cost, because the aftermath of addiction is beyond difficult to be controlled.