Addiction: A Disease or A Choice?

10/29/18: Addiction

When you think of addiction, would you willingly choose to be dependent on something to feel good? No! Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment, and memory. It damages various parts of your body as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. However, there are some people out there that believe addiction is a choice, not a disease. This can be a controversial debate at times, with people on both sides being very passionate about their stance on the matter. Politics, scientific data, financial controversies, and morals all play a huge part in the differing answers. In this blog post, we will be discussing both sides of the coin on this matter to truly understand why some people think addiction is a choice and some don’t. You decide what you think: Is addiction a choice or a disease?

It’s a Disease

  • In the medical field, addiction is labeled as a disease for many reasons. The common argument is that the person who has fallen victim to addiction has lost all control; they cannot help themselves. They believe that it is caused by behavioral, environmental, and biological factors.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “... a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” They say that it is a voluntary decision for a person to try a drug, but when they repeatedly use a substance, the brain changes their self-control and interferes with their ability to resist the urge for more.
  • Many researchers have found that families with struggles of addiction in the past are more likely to have offspring with the same issue. Family history can play a huge part in addiction and addiction has been found to be a hereditary issue. Many people have had someone in their family that has had a drinking or drug use problem. In the past, families typically did not like to talk about addiction since there were not a lot of resources out there to get the help they needed. Future offspring in families that have struggled with addiction have gone to show a higher risk of the same behavior. It’s important for families to discuss any history of addiction to avoid future issues.

It’s a Choice.

  • On the side of “It’s a Choice”, these people will argue: “if free will is no longer present, how do so many people quit?” Their argument is that people have more control over themselves than they think and addiction is a behavior. If addiction is a behavior, then all behaviors have a choice. The psychologist Jeffrey A. Schaler states that “Many activities that are not themselves diseases can cause diseases. And a foolish, self-destructive activity is not necessarily a disease.” Basically, Schaler says that some activities can cause diseases, but an activity that is deliberately destructive to oneself is not a disease.
  • Another reason why some people believe addiction is a choice is because of research done on animals and substances. Researchers created an experiment to see if humans will resort to substances as a way to escape things in life that seemed out of their control. The experiment was done on rats and monkeys. Rats were separated into good and bad habitats to see if they would partake in the water or morphine that was offered. Rats in the positive environment stuck with water, while those in bad environments resorted to morphine. With the monkeys, a similar method was used and those in u healthy living situations resorted to the substance they were offered. Just like humans, people who feel a lack of control in their lives sometimes resort to substance use as a way to escape what it “out-of-control”. These findings suggest that substances don’t remove free will, a choice is made to rely on substances.
  • People who argue that addiction is a disease typically suggest that it is a “brain disease”. Many experts in the medical field have an issue with this because it is harmful to those struggling with actual brain disease. Brain diseases are issues that are not easily fixed, which makes it seem like addiction is not something you can fix. They also say that normalizing
  • They also argue that stigmatizing substance abuse is not something we should fear. Many people feel as though addiction can’t be helped, so they don’t appreciate when there is a stigma around addiction. They say this stigma makes people in addiction feel lonely and like they’re outsiders. However, It’s an unhealthy choice for people to make, so it’s okay to say it’s a bad choice.
  • What do you think?

    With the information we have presented before you, how do you feel about this argument? Is addiction a choice? Is addiction a disease? Are addicts lacking the free will to break free from their disease? Are these people purposely engaging in these actions?

    Content for Arizona Addiction by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment and technology. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

    Content for Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact 602-737-1619 or email info@arizonaaddiction.com to get the help you need. Our acclaimed recovery environment merges upscale, luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare.

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