Addiction is a condition that’s the cause of plenty of debate, both within the medical community and outside it. One of the key factors in this debate, one that’s been raging for years and continues to this day: Is addiction a disease?
At Renaissance Ranch, our addiction treatment programs are designed to get you or a loved one the help they need while struggling with addiction. Let’s look at what research says about its classification, and what that means for the approaches we take to addiction recovery.
According to NIDA, or the American National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. This is a definition that incorporates parts of both neuroscience and medicine, drawing from extensive research that shows that the human brain is physically changed as a result of addiction.
This definition has largely been accepted among rehabilitation facilities like ours, as well as among policy makers. There are still debates, however.
The opposing argument to addiction as a disease is that addiction is learned, and that whatever has been learned can be “unlearned.” This kind of thinking can be damaging to true recovery, however. It’s not as simple as you might think, though.
With any addiction, from drugs to gambling or sex, there is a merging of one’s self-concept with brain changes. The first few times one engages in an addictive behavior, it indeed may well be mostly the result of pure choice. However, once the brain has been changed by these patterns, the individual loses control of their behavior.
In addition, choices alone cannot determine whether something is a disease. For instance, major accepted diseases like diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer all draw major risk factors from choices like exercise, diet and sun exposure. And yet, all of these are clearly considered diseases. With that in mind, we can say that a disease is what happens to your body as a result of a combination of lifestyle choices and other factors – making addiction clearly a disease that falls into this category.
Whether or not your personal opinion lines up with the facts, it’s important to seek help for addiction for yourself or a loved one. Contact the caregivers at Renaissance Ranch to find out about our addiction recovery programs available.