Addiction should be treated as a choice, not a disease

Addiction: a pattern of obtaining and consuming the same substance over and over again until it takes over one’s mind and body. The debate over if addiction is a choice or a disease has been ongoing for many years now with no concrete answer. Some people believe addiction is a disease because it takes control of the mind and body, affecting the brain and its functions and often resulting in serious complications. Others believe it to be a choice, because it is rooted in a conscious decision to use a substance for an excessive amount of time, before becoming an unhealthy pattern that the addict cannot refrain from.

Addiction is purely a choice. It indeed affects a person like a disease, but it all starts from the choice a person makes when they consistently keep using a substance despite knowing they should not. Making the mental decision to reach for that pill bottle when you know you have already had the prescribed amount, to hit the vape again when you have been hitting it consecutively the last few months, to smoke weed right before you go to sleep because you “cannot fall asleep without it” are all choices. Consistent use of a substance can quickly turn into a habit that spirals out of control. Yet addicts still have the choice to get help, and the lack of effort addicts take in the beginning before it becomes a habit is in their own control.

The more someone uses a drug, the higher dosage they need in order to feel it or for it to work in some cases. No one intentionally makes the choice to isolate themselves from their whole family because drugs have taken over their brain. No one intentionally wants to be in physical pain from withdrawal, or potentially harm their body permanently by overdosing. However, these effects of addiction are only made possible by the personal choices addicts make to continue using drugs over long periods of time. Labeling addiction as a disease does not help recovery because it gives patients an excuse to believe their addiction is out of their control. According to the article “Addiction is a Choice” by Brookdale Premier Addiction Recovery, a program based on providing information on drug and alcohol addiction and getting people the help they need, when patients are convinced their addiction is a disease, therapy often does not work because they believe they cannot do anything about their situation. In reality, addiction is something these patients do have control over. They are aware of their own actions and have the conscious ability to change them.

Framing addiction as a choice can help motivate addicts to change their behavior, instead of convincing them they have a disease they cannot fix. Portraying addiction as a choice is a way, though blunt, to give addicts hope of recovery.

The mental and physical effects of addiction can be categorized as a disease, but the harmful consequences and change addiction makes to a human are still recognizable, even to the addict.

The choice to keep using and create an unhealthy pattern, or to stop and get help, has always been up to them.

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