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Is Addiction a Disease?

is addiction a disease

Understanding the brain’s important role in addiction and the causes can help answer the questions, “Is addiction a disease?” or “Is addiction a choice?” Once you understand addiction better and learn how serious an issue is in modern society, you may be encouraged to seek help from an Addiction Treatment Program or help guide someone you love and care about toward the professional care they need and deserve to get clean, sober. Reach out to A Better State online, or you call us at 781.412.1488 today to learn how our skilled, compassionate treatments can help.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, a person’s physical environment, and individual unique life experiences. People with an addiction to drugs or alcohol use these substances and engage in risky behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences to themselves, loved ones, and their career, schooling, and prospects. Prevention and professional approaches for treating addiction and addressing the causes are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.

What Is a Disease?

As you ponder whether it is addiction or disease, it may be useful to understand better what a disease is. A disease is any condition that impairs the body’s body’s normal functioning. Most diseases develop from a specific abnormality in the body that causes distinguishable signs and symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Fear
  • Swelling
  • Fever
  • Loss of functionality

Diseases can be caused by internal factors like genetic predisposition, in spite of the majority of diseases being caused by external factors such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • ToxinsAlll diseases share in common that they are not normal for the body to experience.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Yes, addiction is a disease that affects your body and your brain. It involves compulsive behavior using one or more substances regardless of health and social consequences. Regarding the causes of addiction, a combination of behavioral, environmental, and biological factors are at play, and in the formation of addictions in people, there is never just a single influence causing the addiction, but rather a multitude of contributing factors.

Addiction impairs a body’s normal functioning, taking over the mind, making it difficult to control impulses, and causing behaviors that can be harmful to the individual and those around them. This drastic and caustic change in a person’s ability to function can have devastating effects on an individual’s mental, physical, and social well-being.

What Are the Causes of Addiction?

There are a number of areas in the brain where the development and persistence of addiction occur. Notably, the dopamine pathways are where many drugs exert their dangerous effects. Dopamine is a chemical in charge of carrying signals from one brain cell to the next, managing functions such as reward-motivated behavior.

In healthy brains, dopamine is released in response to natural rewards (eating, exercise). It is the brain’s natural way of acknowledging that something was good and enjoyable. However, drugs and addiction take control of these dopamine pathways and, over time, will teach your brain that drugs are good, too, and produce a euphoric feeling that reinforces drug-using behavior to repeat this process. Drugs release 2 to 10 times the dopamine that natural rewards release. As substance use progresses and continues over time, your brain begins to produce less dopamine naturally and/or reduce the number of brain structures that will receive the dopamine. As your built-in reward network shrinks away, so does your ability to experience pleasures from anything other than drugs.

Learn More at A Better State

Knowing what is addiction and the scientific answers to the ongoing question is addiction a disease or is addiction a choice will halt the harmful negative perceptions of those struggling with substance use disorders. Because addiction is a chronic disorder with a high frequency of relapse, professional holistic care that focuses on you as a whole person, your individual needs, past trauma, and unique life experiences can help you overcome addiction, heal, learn how to live without a dependency on the drugs, and experience a healthier life going forward. Contact us using our secure online form or call us at 781.412.1488 today to discover how an addiction treatment program can be the start of your recovery journey.