One of the more disheartening things when dealing with addiction is the stigma and social responses of normal people who can not even begin to understand what they are talking about. There are the ever-present “Addiction is not a disease, it is a choice!” people who view addiction as a moral failing. The reality is, while addiction does begin with poor choices, the way that long-term abuse of drugs/alcohol essentially rewire the brain and hijack the control center. The best way to put this is that addiction takes control of the plane and puts it on auto-pilot. I have mentioned it before in other posts, there is a video by Dr. Kevin McCauley called “Pleasure Unwoven” where he breaks the whole process down and makes it very easy to understand. Dr. McCauley calls addiction a “disease OF choice.” Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying addicts/alcoholics do not have a choice and I am not saying they aren’t responsible for their actions. Instead, I am saying that while in full-fledged addiction, intoxicated by substances and a distorted reality, they lack the ability to make a rational choice and are instead running almost entirely on instinct. The literature on the subject is extensive and I encourage anyone who doubts the legitimacy of what I am saying to investigate and find out for yourself. I will post a link to a great piece I read earlier today on the subject. Thanks for reading, if you have any questions you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disease Concept vs. Choice Theory