“Addiction is a disease

“Addiction is a disease!” Have you ever stopped to think whether addiction was truly a disease or is it a choice and everyone just turns a blind eye? A disease can be described as a “disorder of structure or function that produces specific signs or symptoms, or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of a physical injury.” (1) Addiction is the physical or psychological dependency on a substance. Many people believe addiction is a disease because they truly believe an addiction cannot be stopped on its own and needs some type of treatment due to it being done so frequently. If addiction is labeled under the disease category, it removes all shame and gets people to believe they truly need help and they seek help sooner.
There are different types of addictions such as a physical addiction and a psychological addiction. When one has a physical addiction, it is a physical dependence. They have physical withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone discontinues whichever substance they have been using regularly. When one has a psychological addiction, it is a psychological dependence. They are emotionally attached to their addiction on a mental need for it. Many people suffer from a physical and psychological dependence of food, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, sexual aspects, and in many cases attention is also an addiction.
Addiction, whether it is a physical addiction or a psychological addiction, affects the brain. “Addiction causes changes to the brain in at least four fundamental ways: 1. Addiction causes changes to the brain’s natural balance, also known as the homeostasis. 2. Addiction alters brain chemistry. 3. Addiction changes the brain’s communication patterns. 4. Addiction causes changes to brain structures and their functioning.” (3)
When it comes to alcohol, those with an alcohol addiction suffer more critical outcomes than those that abuse alcohol. “Alcohol addiction is paired with a physical dependence on the substance that causes adverse reactions when the individual does not drink.” (2) Individuals that suffer from depression or anxiety are at an increased risk of becoming addicted to alcohol with intentions of just having alcohol as self-medication. Know the difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. “Alcohol abuse is a mild to moderate drinking problem that is characterized as problematic drinking that is not accompanied by the presence of physical dependence.” (2) When an individual takes alcohol with other drugs, alcohol can lead to physical health problems such as depression, cancer, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, elevated blood pressure, and in some cases, overdose.

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