Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

The first time you use drugs, get drunk, or stay up all night playing video games, odds are that it is your decision to do so. Alcohol and Drug use can fall into a grey area, though. Most alcoholics and drug addicts begin using due to a legitimate medical concern. Or, they are just trying to have fun with friends. However, many still wonder is addiction a disease or a choice? Because of this, there are those who would argue that any kind of addiction is a choice, not a physiological disease you didn’t ask for and can’t control.

Moral failing will-power self-control

These phrases bring to mind the concept of choice or conscious decisions. Also, people who use these phrases often have little to no understanding of the nature of addiction. Yet, they hold certain judgments about the condition. They beg the question; is Addiction a disease or a choice?

Is Addiction a Disease Or a Choice?

It’s even plausible to believe that, to a degree, alcoholism and drug addiction may be a choice because humans do have will-power, and not everyone who drinks or uses drugs ends up an addict or alcoholic. Is it because they’re any better than the guy who does end up as an addict? Or perhaps they’ve drawn a lucky straw in life . . . good genetics and a comfortable, stress-free lifestyle?According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a disease:

“Even if taking a drug for the first time is a “free” choice, the progression of brain changes that occurs after that involves the weakening of circuits in the prefrontal cortex and elsewhere that are necessary for exerting self-control and resisting the temptations of drug use. Once addiction takes hold, there is greatly diminished capacity, on one’s own, to stop using. This is why psychiatry recognizes addiction as a disease of the brain, and why professional intervention is needed to treat it in most instances.”

Addiction Is a Disease

Is addiction a disease or a choice? Most medical professionals would say addiction is a disease. The diagnostic manual used by physicians to classify medical parameters, the DSM 5 has defined addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” Further, the DSM 5 refers to addiction as a disorder which manifests with certain characteristics:

  • failure to complete obligations at work or school (repeated absences, poor work performance, suspensions, expulsions)
  • neglect of social duties and relationships (children, household, loss of relationships)
  • using alcohol or other drugs during hazardous situations such as driving an automobile or operating machinery
  • recurrent substance-related legal problems (arrests for substance-related offenses: i.e. DUI, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, paraphernalia)
  • continued substance abuse despite all of the above

Once you answer the question is addiction a disease or a choice, it’s up to you to start addressing your substance use disorder. Are you having obsessive thoughts leading you to engage in negative behaviors, like substance use, despite the impact on your personal and professional relationships? The Last Resort is here to help you. Treatment is available at our peaceful, remote Central Texas location. Whatever kind of substance abuse treatment you need, the Last Resort Recovery is ready to help. We offer a comprehensive mens rehab experience and mens addiction treatment programs to help you overcome your addiction. Call us today at 512-750-6750 to learn more about our programs.