The substances that are commonly abused tend to offer a euphoric feeling of well-being that influences an individuals mood and when these substances are abused or overindulged the brain begins to change. Once the brain changes, choice is just an illusion.
We know that both legal and illegal substances can be abused. Thus developing an addiction or physical and mental dependency. Developing a dependency on a substance can cause negative consequences to both the body and in the person’s life. This dependency is expressed in a type of behavior that negatively impacts the way they view themselves, others, and life in general.
The disease model of addiction is recognized by most medical associations, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It is widely agreed that, similar to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental, and biological factors, including genetics.
How Does it Compare to Other Diseases?
Many who buy into the stigma of addiction, do not believe that it is a disease. However, the correlations and similarities between addiction and other diseases prove that addiction is certainly a disease. Like commonly recognized medical diseases, if left untreated, addiction will often include or lead to mental health disorders, and will become more severe, disabling, and life threatening.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Addiction is defined as “a complex disease of the brain and body, often chronic in nature, involving continued, compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences.”
Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment, and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.” Like chronic medical conditions, addiction is progressive and will become worse over time, and involves a cycle of relapse.
All of these criteria lead medical professionals to recognize addiction as a disease.