(Really) Understanding Addiction

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by RN0441, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I think I may have a problem understanding addiction.

    They say that it really is a “disease” like cancer correct?

    But it’s a disease where one can be CURED but only if the person really wants it?

    So it’s really not a disease like cancer at all.

    I can't wrap my brain around this even though I feel that I do know a lot about it because of all the research, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, social workers, rehabs etc. etc. to infinity.

    I think this is what drives the guilt (it's a disease) and anger (he can be cured if he really wants it!) in me!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    It IS a lot like cancer.

    Cancer isn't "a" disease - it's a whole family of diseases. Some are rapidly fatal with few options, some have high cure rates if caught really early, and the rest are... well, there may be help or not, depending on unknown factors. Some people with cancer refuse treatment. Some take treatment but refuse to change their lifestyle, and so cancer keeps coming back. Some do everything that is available for treatment, and still die from cancer.

    If a person doesn't recognize addiction as a problem, then there really isn't any way to get help for it. But even the best help isn't necessarily a cure. What works for one person, may not work for another. There is no guarantee that he CAN be cured. There is a good probability - but no guarantee.

    The other challenge with addiction is that it may not be the only problem. People with mental illness and/or developmental challenges may self-medicate with street drugs rather than seek help. Sometimes, they have sought help and the system has failed them. There are no easy answers.
  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I have heard debate about it being a "disease". I think the disease model is useful in some ways and not so useful in other ways. So to me it is useful in that addiction is not something people have control over and looking at it in a way that takes some of the stigma out of addiction and recognizing the need for treatment....and that treatment should be covered by health insurance.

    I don't know if there is a cure for addiction...ever. It is more like a chronic disease where it can be managed, but needs to be managed carefully. So like some forms of cancer it can be managed but not cured. And like those with cancer you can choose to have treatment or not. You can choose to do things to take care of yourself to manage the disease.
  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Addiction is a brain disease.There is where the difficulty lies. Which came first the chicken or the egg? Did someone become an addict through the chemical changes drugs induce? Or, did they already have addictive tendencies? Here is an article I found that is pretty simple and has other links.


    I read another article that I posted in watercooler about the cycle of guilt, pain and remorse. It was interesting to note that some of those intense feelings drive addicts to get help, while others cycle deeper into their addiction. They use drugs, conduct themselves outside of their moral compass, feel guilty, use drugs to stop feeling guilty, etc., etc.

    The thought is that addicts need to stop looking at themselves as terrible people. That they need to view themselves as good people making bad choices. Then, they can find value in their lives and try to work towards sobriety.......

    Not easy to accomplish when using drugs like meth or heroin..........UGH.

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  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Okay, I am at work on break reading articles on addiction. There are conflicting opinions and studies on whether addiction is a disease or not......"Addiction does not merit the criteria specified for a core disease entity, namely the presence of a primary measurable deviation from physiologic or anatomical norm. Addiction is self acquired and is not transmissible, contagious, autoimmune, hereditary, degenerative or traumatic. Treatment consists of little more than stopping a given behavior. True diseases worsen if left untreated."
    Taken from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3314045/

  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    So would addiction be a disorder, rather than disease?
  7. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    But doesn't addiction worsen without treatment too? Isn't it "progressive"?
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Disorder vs. disease... is a bit of a hair-splitting exercise in my opinion.

    Yes, I believe addiction worsens without treatment, which does make it progressive. And if you get clean and relapse, it's often worse - which is sort of like cancer coming back.
  9. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Yes, hair splitting. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It still doesn't really solve the problem, does it?

    I agree, Insane it does worsen without treatment and as GN points out, some drugs cannot be quit cold turkey, one must be weaned off with professional monitoring.

    The whole point is, how do these people get help? They don't want to quit, because when they do try, they feel horrible. If the drugs take them out of their right mind, how do they find the will to quit?

    Disease or disorder, it is a terrible ordeal........the changes in personality, the dependence, the physical changes......ugh