Those who suffer from substance addiction are typically viewed as weak or as having behavioral problems. These labels of addiction can imbed feelings of shame and hopelessness in the addict. Recent studies in neuroscience have shown that addiction has been found to be a disease that affects the brain and behavior. Therefore addiction is a disease caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors. This discovery provides a better understanding of addiction and can aid in the treatment and prevention of relapses in drug abuse.
THE BRAIN CHANGES DURING ADDICTION
It has been proved that hereditary traits can and do make a person more susceptible to addiction. This means that if one of the addict’s parent was an abuser, statistically that person will also misuse drugs or alcohol. In addition, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has noted that “physical changes caused by repeated exposure to rewarding stimuli strengthen the dependence by deteriorating brain function critical to self-regulation and motivation to remain abstinent, even in the case of extreme consequences.” Since the brain deteriorates in functionality with drug use it becomes extremely difficult for the user to maintain their self-control from destructive behavior. Once the brain has been affected by a person’s ability to control their willpower is changed.
A chronic disease is a long-lasting prolonged illness. A chronic disease is not one that can be cured but it can be controlled. Not all chronic illnesses are life-threatening but those such as AIDS, Cancer and Drug Addiction can be. The Center On Addiction has labeled addiction as a chronic disease “About 25-50% of people with substance abuse use appear to have a severe chronic disorder. For them, addiction is a progressive, relapsing disease that requires intensive treatments and continuing aftercare, monitoring and family or peer support to manage their recovery.”
SKEPTICISM ON ADDICTION AS BRAIN DISEASE
There are many that will argue that drug addiction is not a disease and that the label ‘disease’ is given to aid in the streamlining of profit opportunities. This belief is driven by the number of cases of former drug abusers that overcame substance abuse without any type of treatment. To further the stance they argue that the changes that happen to the brain during addiction can be reversed. Neuroscientist Mark Lewis has gone on record saying “Saying that addiction is a disease suggest that the brain can no longer change, that it’s an end state. But no, it’s not an end state.” Along with Marc, many other behavioral scientists believe that the prolonged habit of proper behavior can cure substance abuse addiction.
Whether one chooses to believe that substance abuse is a disease or the result of poor behavioral patterns, the fact remains that drug abuse is a serious condition. One that needs medical attention, support and behavior modification.
If you or a family member is considering getting help for addiction issues in Southern California, even if you’ve been through recovery before, there is help for you. Asana Recovery is committed to treating every person and their family members in recovery with respect and dignity while we provide personal care and attention. Call us today at 949-438-4504 to speak with one of our qualified admission counselors and start your journey towards a substance-free life.