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Why Addiction Is a Disease and Not a "Character Flaw"

People who struggle with addiction are often viewed as having a weak will or low morals. Society tends to see people who struggle with substance abuse as morally corrupt individuals who consciously choose to give in to their vices and indulge in self-destructive behavior. The reality, however, is that addiction is a disease of the brain that manifests itself in compulsive behaviors. Understanding this can help you understand why so many people struggle with addiction.

What Is Addiction?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) refers to addiction as “a chronic and treatable medical condition.” It is in no way a moral shortcoming or even a” bad habit” we can easily break with willpower alone. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease that progresses through stages.

  • Preoccupation: The person becomes preoccupied with obtaining, using, and recovering from substance abuse
  • Ritualization: Drug use becomes more and more regular, sometimes triggered as a response to negative emotions
  • Abstinence: The person cannot control their substance abuse even in the face of negative consequences
  • Recovery: The person is in remission from the disease and no longer struggles with symptoms

Why Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is a disease of the brain and not a simple choice or moral failing. The disease model of addiction does not imply that people who struggle with this disease are somehow less responsible for their actions. This model also does not mean that addicted persons should be treated as if they have no control over their lives. Instead, it describes the need for a program of treatment and support that takes into account the person’s strengths and efforts to recover from the disease. Recovery centers like The Guest House offer comprehensive treatment programs that cover the full scope of treatment for addiction.

Recovery From Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease. People who struggle with addiction do not have unlimited time to get clean and stay clean. Healing from addiction progresses in stages, and each stage takes a certain amount of time before it is conquered.

  • Pre-contemplation: This is the phase when the individual is completely unaware they have a problem
  • Contemplation: The person might realize that drugs are a problem in their life, but they have not committed to taking action to get clean yet
  • Preparation: The individual has decided that they need help, and they are preparing to take action to get clean; this is the beginning of the journey of recovery
  • Action: The person is actively seeking treatment for their addiction and beginning the journey of recovery
  • Maintenance: The individual must keep up with their aftercare plan, so they don’t fall back into addiction

Many diseases in the world today are treatable. Addiction is no exception to that rule. While it may be something a person in recovery has to live with all their life, addiction does not have to define the rest of it. Healing and recovery are real options in the world of addiction and substance use disorder. The first step in finding healing is finding help.

Addiction can be treated, and people can recover from it. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it is important that you seek help. Many different treatment options are available, both in and out of the medical setting. The Guest House offers a wide variety of treatment possibilities. Remember, with professional treatment, support from the right people, and a positive mindset, you can recover from addiction and become the person you were meant to be. For more information, please call (855) 483-7800.