Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

In our modern western society, we often tend to think of addictions as a mental disorder, when the reality is that addictions are a choice. People who suffer from addictions are faced with the inability to control their use of certain substances. This can be drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, food or even activities such as sex. With many people around the world today struggling with addictions, it is important to recognize that some addictions can be considered a choice, a mental illness or a social issue.

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Although there is not a conclusive answer to whether addictions can be considered a choice, one thing is true. Addictions have been shown to be associated with poor health outcomes, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and obesity. These types of physical health complications often begin as an impulse to alleviate the physical symptoms of discomfort, which can develop into an addiction and become an ongoing source of stress, frustration and unhappiness.

There is a difference between an addiction and a mental illness. When addiction is treated successfully, the patient can go on to lead a productive and happy life without the use of substances. In addition, with proper medical treatment, addictions can be handled to the point where the person no longer needs treatment or supervision. For example, in a 12-step treatment centre, once an addict has reached a point at which he or she needs counselling and assistance in controlling his or her addictive behaviours, they are counselled and given specific tools to help them live a healthy and productive life without addiction. If an individual is suffering from an addiction but has not yet reached this point, it is important to seek treatment and supervision in order to avoid the development of an addiction which can take over one’s life.

Although there is no consensus among the psychological community or the World Health Organization as to the causes of addiction or the term addiction, it is clear that some individuals can become severely affected by it. Some can lead completely unhappy lives as a result of substance use and can develop addictions. Substance abuse affects the brain and the chemical processes in the brain. The use of controlled substances can affect the brain to a point where the individual can experience hallucinations and delusions.

Addiction is classified as an addiction based upon substance use problems. This means that if an individual uses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, that individual is considered to have an addiction. An addiction can occur with accidental or voluntarily substance use. It can also be a result of a mental illness.

In today’s day and age, substance addictions are increasingly becoming a serious matter. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in ten Americans has a substance addiction problem, with most of them having used drugs at some point in their life. An addiction can develop for anyone, from young children to adults. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that nearly 25% of people suffering from substance abuse also suffer from mental health disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and psychosis. Many people who suffer from these mental disorders can develop addictions to prescribed medications or illegal drugs.

When considering the issue of addiction, it is important to understand that addiction is not a disease or a choice. The debate between disease models and choice models should be understood carefully. Addiction is a disease because it can be treated. It is a disease in that the cause of the addiction can be determined, while the treatment option will vary with the patient and the severity of the addiction.

In many ways, the debate between the disease model and the choice model is simply a question of choice. Those who support the disease model believe that the cause of addiction can be detected at the outset of addiction. Treatment will then be based upon the individual’s capacity to recover. Those who support the choice model believe that one can become addicted to something one cannot control.

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