There is no cure, but treatment helps you manage and successfully live with the disease. High-rent districts, « seedy » neighborhoods, age, race, sex or income—addiction weaves its way through all walks of life. No one thing can predict your risk of developing a substance use disorder. But researchers agree there are a combination of factors involved that can increase your risk.

Clinically, alcohol consumption that exceeds guidelines for moderate drinking has been used to prompt brief interventions or referral for specialist care [112]. More recently, a reduction in these quantitative levels has been validated as treatment endpoints [113]. I have made peace with the idea that I am the kind of person who should not drink, at least for today.

Causes of Substance Use Disorder

One use is all it takes for some drugs to set a person on the wrong course, and even legal drugs such as prescription opioids can easily catapult addiction if they are misused. This means that anyone with access to medical care is potentially at risk, and so long as old misconceptions continue to prevail, they are in greater danger than they would otherwise be. However, we must insist that individuals struggling with addiction need to find a way of overcoming the stigmatization and seek professional help. They must learn to appreciate the fact that their state may not be their choice, but they can choose to improve their health or make it worse. They overstimulate your brain’s reward system, and two, they tend to mimic the natural transmitters such as dopamine to send false signals to the central nervous system.

is addiction a disease or choice debate

In recent years, the conceptualization of addiction as a brain disease has come under increasing criticism. When first put forward, the brain disease view was mainly an attempt to articulate an effective response to prevailing nonscientific, moralizing, and stigmatizing attitudes to addiction. According to these attitudes, addiction was simply the result of a person’s moral failing or weakness of character, rather than a “real” disease [3]. To promote patient access to treatments, scientists needed to argue that there is a biological basis beneath the challenging behaviors of individuals suffering from addiction. A premise of our argument is that any useful conceptualization of addiction requires an understanding both of the brains involved, and of environmental factors that interact with those brains [9].

Arguments Against the Disease of Addiction

Options include withdrawal and detox, ongoing treatments such as medications and therapy, and intensive outpatient programs. Alcohol or drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic disease of the brain that can happen to anyone. Severe substance use disorder happens when substance use becomes an uncontrollable habit that hurts your day-to-day life, showing up as struggles at work or in school, conflicts with relationships, legal or money problems. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) classify addiction as a disease. When compared to other diseases like heart disease, diabetes type 2, and cancer, addiction is also made up of a combination of environmental, behavioral, and genetic or biological factors. Just like with other hereditary diseases, genetic links account for about half of the likelihood of developing an addiction.

  • To reflect this complex nature of addiction, we have assembled a team with expertise that spans from molecular neuroscience, through animal models of addiction, human brain imaging, clinical addiction medicine, to epidemiology.
  • Behavioral researchers like Dr. Lewis try to argue this by acknowledging that the brain does change during addiction, but they view it as a situation like playing with clay.
  • However, it is also clear that the probability of them choosing to their own disadvantage, even when more salutary options are available and sometimes at the expense of losing their life, is systematically and quantifiably increased.
  • Accordingly, we do not maintain that a chronic relapsing course is a defining feature of SUD.