Why Addiction is a Disease – Not a Symptom

8Any person who has ever lived through addiction can tell you first hand that addiction is a serious disease that requires intensive treatment. However, there are a host of “alternative” treatment centers cropping up all across the country that postulate that this is not the case. Instead, they view addiction as merely the symptom of an underlying disease or condition, and that if the underlying condition is treated, the addiction will be cured. But while dual-diagnosis conditions are common, most of these only serve to exacerbate each other and neither actually causes the other. This is an important consideration because it is only by approaching addiction as a disease that it can be successfully treated. When treated as a symptom, relapses are inevitable.

Addiction is considered a physiological disease because it meets the same requirements as other disorders and diseases, including a great deal of terminal illnesses. This is important to note because unabated addiction is 100% fatal. The basic requirements which clearly classify addiction as a disease include:

  • The symptoms are the same across many different types of substances. For instance, whether your drug of choice is cocaine or alcohol, the general symptoms are always the same
  • Addiction is chronic and does not subside without treatment
  • Addiction symptoms are progressive, resulting in death
  • Just as other diseases surface repeatedly, addiction results in an extremely high occurrence of relapse
  • Addiction and alcoholism are treatable

Addiction is typically diagnosed by a series of behaviors as opposed to physical symptoms or any type of medical testing. These behaviors can be summarized as repeated failures to control the substance abuse despite severe consequences. This means that an addict will lose control over a substance, obsess over it, and continue even when they know that there is imminent danger or risk of life-changing consequences.

Many experts believe that addicts and alcoholics are genetically predisposed to the disease of addiction, and most are also in agreement that some environmental factor is usually required to trigger the initial addictive event. Once this process has begun, addiction truly becomes a neurological disease. This is because the process of developing tolerance, physical dependence and outright addiction builds neurological pathways in the brain that are permanent in nature. This means that even after a person stops using drugs or alcohol, those pathways still exist and they demand to be “fed”.

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Of course, the only thing that feeds these neurological pathways is active addiction – using drugs or alcohol -after all, that’s exactly what they were built for. By the time addiction has reached this stage, the afflicted individual suffers from an uncontrollable urge to obtain and use their drug of choice. It is not an issue of free will or behavioral control; addiction is a physical, neurological disease for which there is no known cure – only treatment to manage it.

Just as a person wouldn’t treat a terminal illness at home, an addict or alcoholic should be able to expect to get help at a professional facility just as they would with any disease. The most difficult part of the disease of addiction is that an addict will almost never get help on their own because the very nature of the illness will not allow the sufferer to believe they are afflicted by it.

That’s where you come in. If you know someone who needs help for addiction or alcoholism, then please do everything that you can to help them get the right treatment as soon as possible. Their life may depend on it. You can start right here with our Florida drug rehab.  For serious and fast action, click here now for our extremely successful residential inpatient treatment program.

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