I had a hard time accepting it when addiction was initially identified as a brain disorder. I was clean and sober at the time, and I thought the "illness hypothesis" was too soft, and that it was just another method to absolve addicts of responsibility for their acts. I wasn't the only one who had this thought. People still contact me asking if addiction is an illness or a choice.
It's the chicken-and-egg problem. We are not all on the same page when it comes to understanding this sickness. Even persons in recovery have differing viewpoints. So, what really is the truth? Is it true that addiction is a disease? Is it a choice, or is it a necessity?
“I'm having a hard time labelling addiction a disease,” one mother recently stated. I've been at this for ten years and still haven't figured it out. Other members of the family have battled cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. They were grateful for the treatment and counselling they received. My child uses drugs and refuses help, just like my father, who died early as a result of his addiction. My child switches from one medicine to the next. I've reached the end of my patience. What exactly is addiction? People say it's a sickness, but other diseases don't steal, lie, or hurt the people they care about. Addiction is not a sickness, in my opinion. I really wish I could. It would make things go more smoothly. Addiction, in my opinion, is a choice. What are your feelings on the subject?"
Many people feel that addiction is not a disease because it is the result of a person's decision to use drugs and/or alcohol. That is correct. It is possible to choose the first time. Keep this in mind, though. Who do you know who has never experimented with booze or drugs? They are tried by almost everyone at some point in their lives.
So, why do some people become hooked to something while others can live without it?
Your brain chemistry will change if you're genetically prone to this sickness (meaning addiction runs in your family), according to scientists. Most specialists feel that once the brain has been chemically modified or altered by addiction, the person loses the ability to choose and regulate their behaviour.