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How Do We Know Addiction Is a Disease?

Experience clinician-run addiction treatment at Red Oak Recovery® in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains

How Do We Know Addiction Is a Disease?

A man tries hard to understand that addiction is a diseaseAddiction is a disease. For those still looking for confirmation, there are scientific studies that prove it is. Overall, the definition helps us fight the stigma many associate with the disease. People with addictions are sick. When we realize they aren’t bad people, more of them are willing to get help.

How Do We Know Addiction Is a Disease?

The definition of a disease is any illness or disorder that affects a specific organ with diagnosable symptoms. Therefore, addiction meets these criteria. The organ the disease affects is the brain, and there are a number of resulting symptoms. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has conducted many studies on the addicted brain. We see that the brain of an individual with addiction lacks dopamine flow regulation.

The prefrontal cortex helps with dopamine regulation. Unfortunately, if it isn’t functioning properly, it’s easier to develop an addiction. The additional responsibilities of this part of the brain include:

  • Impulse control
  • Empathy
  • Emotional regulation
  • Logical decision making
  • Attunement

Is Addiction a Choice?

Many people believe addiction is a choice. However, it’s important to realize that a large portion of people struggling with addiction have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Therefore, whether an individual has experimented with substances or not, they may have a 50 percent chance of developing problematic behavior.

For others, addiction absolutely begins as a choice. Millions of people decide to abuse substances on a daily basis. However, some people begin developing dependence to drugs or alcohol to mask other stressors. Even if addiction is a choice, this doesn’t make it any less of a disease. For example, diabetes may start from a poor diet just as cancer can develop from smoking or other unhealthy habits. Additionally, heart disease can occur from not taking care of oneself. Yet, we still respect all these as harrowing diseases worthy of our sympathy. How is addiction any different?

Treating Addiction

Red Oak Recovery® is a quality treatment center using evidence-based methods to properly treat addiction. Our team understands the science behind the disease as well as methods for helping the brain heal. Additionally, we’ll provide you with the necessary care and attention to reach lasting recovery. Our programs include:

If you’re ready to transform your life for the better with our clinically-focused programs, call us today at 866-457-7590. It’s never too late to start living a fulfilling lifestyle.