Most individuals use medicines as directed by their physicians. Nevertheless, millions of American citizens have admitted to taking prescription drugs for reasons that have nothing to do with maintaining health, and millions more struggle with addiction to illegal substances. Drug abuse is a serious issue in the U.S. and it is increasing at an alarming rate. However, many individuals wonder whether or not this destructive behavior is a choice or a disease. This topic has been hotly debated by many experts and opinions continue to vary.
Disease Versus an Act of Will
Because those who are addicted to drugs experience many physical and mental symptoms as a direct result of their problem, the theory was formed several decades ago that substance abuse is an illness, rather than an act of will. Those who promote this philosophy claim that drug problems share numerous features with chronic illnesses, such as being influenced by environmental conditions, the tendency of substance abuse to run in families, and the fact that with appropriate treatment it can be controlled.
However, although the disease model has been widely embraced over time, some experts, such as Doctor Lance Dodes, a Psychology Today Magazine contributor, states that this theory requires a willingness to ignore facts. For example, he states that contracting a disease does not involve the human will and is therefore not a choice, as opposed to taking prescription medication inappropriately or trying illegal substances, actions that both involve a distinct act of the will. A disease, as defined in medical terminology, is caused by an infectious agent, such as the germ that causes pneumonia, a biologically degenerative condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a pathological biological process, such as diabetes.
Substance abuse, Dodes states, on the other hand is a group of behaviors, rather than a disease on its own. Certain experts agree with this theory as it appears to be more fact-based than the disease model. When judging from a black-and-white perspective, it is true that the only “disease like” aspect associated with substance abuse is that if individuals with this problem do to not seek treatment, their lives and health will degenerate.
Deciding to Get Help
It is essential for anyone with a substance abuse problem to seek treatment as soon as possible. This is because few or no individuals can realistically solve their own problem and cure themselves without professional intervention. Although it may disrupt the person’s life temporarily, particularly if he or she works full-time or must care for children, the cost of pursuing such help is not very high when one considers the personal and financial losses associated with long-term substance abuse.
By enrolling in an appropriate program, those suffering from addiction can acquire the proper skills needed to change their perspective on life and find fulfillment and happiness naturally, rather than depending on a drug to create a false euphoria. True recovery can be achieved by anyone struggling with a substance abuse problem. Therefore, such individuals should not procrastinate, but rather seek help as soon as possible.