The disease of addiction is chronic because it can not be cured. It can be treated, and many people maintain recovery with consistent work.

Drug abuse can create many negative physical, emotional, behavioral, and social consequences. Not everyone who uses drugs is addicted to them. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) published that in 2014 about 7 million of the 27 million people considered to be currently abusing illicit drugs suffered from a drug addiction that year.

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Addiction as a Disease

Addiction affects the brain’s ability to regulate impulses relating to an addictive substance. Therefore, it changes how the brain functions, which is the definition of chronic disease.

You can manage chronic diseases such as addiction, heart disease, and diabetes with various treatment options, but you cannot reverse the altered function of the affected organ. So, while people can recover from substance abuse, they must work continually to remain well. 

Drug addiction does not always result from the recreational use of the drug. Instead, the habit can often begin when using prescription medications to treat conditions such as pain and addiction. 

Addiction Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for addiction. However, a family history of addiction is one of the most common factors that increase a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to a substance. This is because genetics play a significant role in how the brain functions. 

A person is also at a greater risk of developing an addiction if exposed to environmental situations that may cause them to seek comfort in a substance. For example, children that grow up in tense home environments or environments that lack structure, discipline, and emotional fulfillment often seek comfort from substances that alter the mind later in life. 

In many cases, these people will begin experimenting with alcohol or drugs early, increasing their risk of becoming addicted. In addition, some may be exposed to peer pressure in their teenage and young adult years which can present the social use of the substance as a way of belonging and being accepted by a group of people. 

Lastly, mental health can significantly impact the risk of addiction. Those with mental health disorders are more likely to depend on the substance to cope with depressed or anxious feelings. 

Why do Some People say Addiction is not a Disease?

Many argue that addiction is not a disease because it requires choosing to use the substance. However, the DSM-5-TR, the classification standard mental health professionals use, officially classifies substance use disorder as a chronic disease.

Instead, they become addicted because of the changes the substance causes within their brain. This is why some become addicted, while others who use the same substance may not form an addiction. This occurs much in the same way that making unhealthy choices can lead to heart disease or diabetes. 

Addiction Changes the Brain

Addiction changes the way the brain releases certain chemicals. For example, when addictive substances are consumed, they cause an increase in dopamine levels in the brain. 

In turn, the brain decreases its natural production of the chemical. This leads to dependence on the substance to feel normal. In most cases, as the brain gets used to these increased chemical levels, it will take more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. 

The substances also reroute how the brain processes the chemical, making the body think it is necessary. 

Why is Will Power not Enough to Stop Using?

Willpower is not enough to stop using because it doesn’t involve addressing the root of the addiction. For example, many addictions can begin to cope with the symptoms of mental illness. However, the symptoms will return when you stop using the substances, making avoiding relapse more challenging. 

Addiction Causes the Brain to Ask for More

When your brain releases average amounts of dopamine, it makes you feel happy, accomplished and focused. However, drugs release higher levels of the chemical, increasing these feelings to euphoric levels. This will create a craving to experience these feelings again. 

An Addicted Brain Impacts Behavior

In addition to creating an intense craving for the substance, it impairs the brain’s responses to different things. For example, it can damage impulse control, leading to a complete loss of control over impulsively seeking and consuming the substance. 

Rerouting the brain’s functions can also lead to other adverse effects, such as decreased memory and a lack of motivation to complete essential tasks.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Addiction is a serious issue. Unfortunately, the U.S. is currently facing an opioid epidemic and excessive use of alcohol, which continue to be one of the leading preventable causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Luckily, there are many options for safely and effectively treating substance use disorder. 

If you’re ready to break the endless cycle, reach out to an Agape representative today for more information on their holistic, safe, and effective methods for beating addiction and improving your quality of life.

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