Since the dawn of booze, human beings have been part of a never-ending battle between self-will and powerlessness over addiction. The last hundred years have brought forth more destructive and fatal chemicals for mankind to struggle with, and because of this, people have been dying off in the thousands. Especially with the recent heroin epidemic, research has been made over the last several decades into exactly what addiction is and why people who suffer from it just can’t seem to stop.
Studies have shown that addiction is without a doubt, unequivocally, a disease of the body and mind, and not, in fact, a choice of the user.
For anyone who has suffered from addiction, or who loves someone who is an addict, it is easy to see how completely powerless a person is over their drug of choice. For family members and friends who can drink normally, it boggles the mind as to why their loved one can’t quit. No matter how many people love them, how well they were raised, or how much potential they have, people who suffer from addiction would give it all up for just one more high.
For years, people thought of addiction as a choice, or a lack of morals, something that showed a lack of character and willpower. For this reason, many alcoholics and addicts were simply thrown into jail or locked up in asylums when those around them didn’t see results. Despite the addict’s desire to stop using, they simply could not.
This was by no means a lack of character or a lack of mental strength. Addiction is, in fact, a disease. It is the only disease of its kind, as it;
- Centers in the mind of a person
- Reacts in the physical manifestation of the body
According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, addiction and alcoholism are by no means a choice. It is considered to be an allergy, but unlike any other allergies, the person MUST have the one thing that kills them.
It is considered a brain disease because the chemical structure of drugs changes the brain – they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to harmful behaviors that are seen in people who abuse drugs.
From the outside looking in, it is understandable why it is so difficult for people who are unfamiliar with addiction to blame a lack of will to be the reason why these people act the way they do. However, it has been proven time and time again, that despite the addict’s overwhelming desire to stop using, they suffer from a mental obsession that convinces them that they, in fact, CAN and MUST use their substance of choice.
There is, however, a Silver Lining to All of This
While a person in active addiction does not have a choice overusing their preferred substance, the evidence does show that people CAN recover from the hopeless state of mind and body. For centuries, people who suffered from addiction were considered beyond help. While this may be true, it only constitutes being beyond HUMAN aid. Again, the Big Book states that addicts suffer from a spiritual malady – in other words, in order to recover, a complete psychic change must occur.
In this form, a complete psychic change is constituted as a realignment of thoughts, actions, and behaviors. The first step is to completely separate from the drug of choice. For many people, this first step is a detox process. Usually the most effective when taken under medical care, the time a person spends detoxing from their drug of choice, allows them a small window when their head can become somewhat clear.
From this “clearing out point” if a person continues with working any sort of program of recovery, whether it be 12 step-based, church-based, or charity-based, the idea is that a person who suffers from addiction can recover through acts of selflessness.
It seems like such an easy fix, but as most addicts suffer from dual diagnoses (the presence of depression, anxiety, panic, eating disorders, etc) there are often further steps that need to be taken in order to recover. For example, besides being of service to other people, it is vital for an addict to become a part of some sort of positive-minded community. One where they will be surrounded by like-minded people who share an altruistic goal.
When a person starts to make headway in their program of recovery, only then does their disease become a CHOICE. Once a person has begun to recover, they will experience the psychic change, the realigning of their selfish behaviors, and they will be able to find a new purpose.
All cheesiness aside, an active addict has absolutely no choice over their addiction, and a child never imagines, “I don’t want to be an astronaut when I grow up, I want to be a drug addict!” The statement of, addiction is not a choice is often held in regard to how it can affect any person, of every social and economic background. Poor people and millionaires can be addicts, they can be white, black, blue, green, or purple. The disease is random, and therefore, it is not a chosen behavior.
The fact is, addiction is a disease because it affects the chemical structures in the brain. While it is different from every other disease in the method of treatment, i.e, it cannot be cured with radiation or with pills, it does eventually lead to the death of the sufferer when left untreated. Thankfully, there is a way to stop the cycle, and once this process has begun, with dedication and effort, a once hopeless addict or alcoholic can begin to live a normal life, one with far greater experience and altruism that would never have been imagined.
In Need of Detox?
It can be intimidating to know that addiction and alcoholism are always right around the corner. Sometimes getting that little push and having medical guidance can be what it takes. Relapse and active addiction/alcoholism are only as preventable as much as we value the sobriety we hold in our hands. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 800-982-5530 or visit www.restoredtx.wpengine.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life in a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.