Addiction: Is it a Disease or a Choice?
The controversy over whether addiction is a disease or a choice is important for those who work with substance abuse and who struggle with addiction.
Untreated psychiatric and substance use disorders leave room for a connection with spiritual values. For example, a person with major depression and alcohol dependence is often filled with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and a lack of joy for life. Spiritual emptiness can lead to a preoccupation with self-harm or even suicide and a worsening of emotional and mental health symptoms, and often contributes to more drinking and drugging to fill the void as well. For these reasons, whole health recovery is necessary for successful addiction treatment.
One single factor in isolation whether biological, psychological, social, cultural, environmental, or spiritual may weigh heavily or very little, depending on the disorder. For example, schizophrenia is linked strongly to genetic factors. Addictive disorders are linked heavily to inherited predispositions in brain chemistry. Other illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD are clearly influenced by the environmental factors of being exposed to an extremely stressful event, such as rape, combat, or a natural disaster. On the other hand, the likelihood of developing PTSD is also related to a person’s pre-trauma vulnerability in the form of genetic, biologica,l and personality factors combined with the magnitude of the stressful event, preparedness for the event, and the quality of care after the event.
The relative roles of all these factors also vary across individuals and across stages of the life span. For instance, in some people, major depression arises primarily as a result of exposure to stressful life events, whereas in others the foremost cause of depression is a genetic predisposition.
Rehabs are still open!
Psychiatric and substance disorders are very treatable illnesses. The outlook for people coping with both illnesses is improving. This means, with treatment, most people with these disorders can stay in remission with the intermittent return of symptoms perhaps during times of stress. Others may be able to reach a point of recovery where symptoms are not present, and still others may have a steady ongoing struggle of medication augments, hospitalization, and additional treatment before symptom management is achieved. A person is not responsible for being predisposed to medical disorders of the brain. They are responsible for participating in appropriate treatment and complying with a recovery plan. Recovery is said to be simple but not easy.
Recovery is simple because the program of recovery is simple. It involves changes like eating nutritious foods, working towards abstinence, replacing negative thinking with positive thinking, changing self-defeating behaviors to healthy behaviors, and developing a healthy support system. Recovery is not easy because change can be difficult, and work is work. Recovery requires effort and patience and then more effort and patience. It is worth the effort! A person is either in illness or in recovery. In illness, an untreated medical disorder of the brain causes problems in all areas of a person’s life. In recovery, the bio-psycho-socio-cultural-environmental-spiritual approach means a person finds balance in all these areas like physical health, mental health, relationships, and spirituality. Health is more than just the absence of illness or disease. Working toward goals of wellness by learning to manage a disorder means the problems caused by untreated illness can either managed, coped with, or will go away altogether.
Physical health or wellness includes:
Psychological wellness or emotional and mental health includes:
Wellness in the areas of social, culture, and environment includes:
Spiritual health is interwoven with physical, mental, and emotional health and includes:
Vital perspectives on fighting addiction delivered straight to your inbox.
Treatment professionals are waiting for your call
Our treatment providers offer 24/7 assistance.
Have us call you:
Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by one of our treatment partners below.
All calls are private and confidential. Find out more about Addiction Center.
A treatment facility paid to have their center promoted here. Learn more about how to be featured in a paid listing.