The Bottom Line: Is Addiction a Disease?
With so many different agencies making claims and presenting facts that support addiction as a disease, it is hard to argue the point. Most experts agree with one statement:
Addiction is a disease that begins with a choice.
There is no denying the fact that compulsively using drugs or alcohol changes how the way the brain responds in various situations. That applies to times of stress, receiving rewards, and maintaining self-control. Also, some of the changes that occur can be long-term, and may not be undone just because the substance abuse stops.
It can be helpful to take a look at how addiction compares with heart disease. Both of them:
- Cause a disruption in the regular functioning of a vital bodily organ
- Can lead to a decrease in a person’s quality of life
- Can lead to an increased risk of premature death
- Are preventable by making different choices and living a healthy lifestyle
- Are treatable, and treatment can prevent any further damage from taking place