Is Drug Addiction a Disease or a Choice?
I have seen battling memes all week long, and it's time to put an end to it.
So which side are you betting on, disease or choice? If you said "disease," then winner-winner chicken dinner. Here's the key phrase from the Center on Addiction:
Like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors. Genetic risks factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction.
Okay, so let's get back to that in a minute. Here's the definition of "disease" according to Dictionary.com:
...a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity,or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.
So, addiction is a disease. If you don't agree, it's your definition of disease that's off.
Here's a great example. Let's say heart disease runs in your family. You can choose to eat healthy and stay in shape to fight it, or you can go full-on Twinkie warrior and possibly kick it into high gear.
Now, let's say that your family has a history of alcoholism. You can choose not to drink, or you can grab a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe and kick it into high gear.
Wow, don't both those examples sound the same?
So, let's review.
- If diabetes runs in your family, you can stay off sugar or slam Moonpies.
- If your family has respiratory disease, you can smoke or not.
- If your family has addiction problems, you can feed those addictions or not.
Problem solved -- let's put the meme to bed. Addiction is a disease, and, like any disease, you can feed it or starve it -- it's up to you. Oh, and it's also a choice, because you can choose to feed the addiction or not. So the real answer is, dum-dum-da-dum: BOTH!