The emotional impact of the statement, “Alcoholism is a sickness,” is such that very few people care to stop to think what it actually means. -E. M. JELLINEK QUOTING WEXBERG (1951) IN THE DISEASE CONCEPT OF ALCOHOLISM (1960) By now probably almost everyone is aware of the epidemic that is addiction. Those whose lives' have been affected by the addictions of friends and loved ones or those who have been addicted themselves are certainly informed about this ever-growing crisis. What about those who haven’t been directly affected? Many who hear or read the term, “drug addict,” still think of criminals that need to be locked away or that these, “drug addicts,” deserve what’s coming to them, because they believe addiction is a moral failure. Not everyone is familiar with the Disease Model of Addiction.
The old stigma associated with addiction, that addiction is a moral failure of weak-willed individuals is still alive and well. In November of 2016, former Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy M.D. stated that “Addiction is a chronic illness accompanied by significant changes in the brain.” The scientific and medical communities support the Disease Model of Addiction. I tend to agree with the Disease model of addiction, for the Moral Model of Addiction states that an addict can simply stop using substances if they really want to is proven untrue by the hundreds of thousands of addicts who desperately want to get clean but find they cannot.
This isn’t to say that people in the grips of addiction don’t do morally reprehensible things, they obvisoulsy do, including theft, robbery, prostitution and whatever else, but the actual mechanism of addiction, the compulsion to seek and use drugs is not a voluntary choice influenced by morality or immorality. Unfortunately I belive our society is constructed in such a way that still punishes addicts as criminals. Our system doesn’t necessarily treat them as sick people trying to get well. Harsh penalties for possession of illegal substances are still in place. Addicts are ostracized and isolated to the outskirts of society. Stigma still holds back necessary innovations that can address this problem and help save lives.
Choices do not happen without a brain; a person’s choices depend on the health of their brain and mechanism. Even if taking a drug for the first time is a “free” choice, the progression of brain changes that occurs after that. Once addiction takes hold, there is greatly diminished capacity, on one’s own, to stop using. This is why psychiatry recognizes addiction as a disease of the brain, and why professional intervention is needed to treat it in most instances. Honestly even the “freely willed” first choice to take a drug cannot be the basis for judgment and stigma against people suffering from addictions.
Matters of choice and lifestyle states what you eat, how active you are, where you livemay contribute to the risk for, or even directly cause. I have said before in one of our discussion boards that pills are a huge wide-open gateway for addiction. Many people get prescribed Xanax to help with the symptoms which is fine until that doesn’t take the edge off anymore. At that point even the strongest person will reach out and try a harder substance such a cocaine or heroin. That vicious cycle of always trying to take the edge off is where addiction sneaks in.
Back to the question at hand I believe there is a significant amount of choice involved in addiction. You are choosing to put those drugs, alcohol and substances into your body instead of seeking the proper help for the issue you are facing. I also believe there is a significant number of outside factors that help move your choices along the way, such as trauma, abuse, your environment, your family, your mental illness, the culture around you, peer pressure from peers are so major outside factors. I think those factors help the process of trying drugs and alcohol as an escape for daily issues. As not everyone is taught how to properly process or us coping mechanisms that come with the trail and tribulations of life.
One of the many problems when looking at addictiuon is its not bkacj and white. Every case, every perrosn, every story is going to be different, what works for one person might not work for another. I know someone who is sober know for 20 years and he ofrens says people are closed minded when it come addiction, they look at it so simplifed, as if your either in or out of the box. However addiction is so much more compklaucated than what most people think. I feel as if alchilsim and drug addiction is beoming more clearly a diesast it is still widley misunderstood. I do not fell the diese concept gives the addict an exsucse to be an addict.
Addiction is mukti layeredm to get to the core of addiction it really is rooted in dysfunction. I feel as if the diese concept benefits the addict, family and community as it gives everyone involved a reason to hold on to hope. Being that this model states the addicion is a deise, it helps the addict and fmaiky know that they are being taken serisously. That they can finally have vailadated feelings in the fact that they are not alone in their fights to reach soberity. Looking at the moral concept I could see how the addict would face cristism, as this model stated an addict can stop cold turkey at the snap of their fingers.
That is in vailedaes theoer feelings and their struggle. If we as a socirty start looksing at addiction as a diese it would be more widley accpeted, people would reach out more to get help fighting their addiciotn. As hopefully one day the sterotpe of being an adddict would fall to the waistside. When something becomes widley accpetyed the skepisism fades away and addicts I belive will work harder. When working with future clients I will understand that addiction involves changes in the functionhg brain and body. Sometimes these changes may be brught on by risky substance use or could possible already exist. The consequences of untreated addiction oftern includes other physical and mental health disorders that require medical attention. If left untreated overtime addicion can become more severe, and life threating.
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