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Is Addiction a Disease or Weakness of Will?

The debate on whether addiction is a disease or not is irrelevant to the people affected by it and those around them. Instead, understanding why a person uses substances or addictive behaviors to self-medicate is where the focus is heading instead of arguing over the condition. Yet, the fact remains that drugs and alcohol and even some addictive behaviors do modify the brain’s functioning. Therefore the medical community is comfortable identifying addiction as a brain disease.

How Does Addiction Begin to Surface?

The causes of why one person will get addicted to a drug and another will not are because the addict has experienced trauma, physical or sexual abuse, emotional/mental neglect, and early exposure to drugs and alcohol while the other individual did not. An investigation completed in therapy between the addict and counselor is the only way to uncover what happened to the person without triggering them to return to drugs and drinking to numb their pain. The answer to why addiction happens is less about the after-effects of drug use but more about what occurred to the person before using substances.

What Does Research Say About Addiction?

The brain disease model of addiction is currently under re-evaluation for inaccuracies—as the complexities of what causes addiction point to it as a developmental disorder. Researchers from European universities disclosed this in a recently published article in the National Institutes of Health Pub Med Journal.

There is evidence that early adverse experiences, child neglect and maltreatment, and drug use and abuse in parents and primary caretakers cause addiction. We argue that drug addiction is a developmental disorder, outlining genetic, epigenetic, and neurobiological factors alongside experiences of adversity at key stages of development. This multilevel approach can reframe our understanding of how addiction emerges and is maintained. It is essential to identify this disorder’s mechanisms better to inform effective treatment and prevention across the generations. (Pub Med)

Do Addicted Individuals Suffer from a Lack of Willpower?

The fact is that drug and alcohol addicts have extraordinary willpower. Their disorder pushes them to seek out drugs and alcohol regardless of the consequences, which requires someone to endure harsh situations. Addicts and alcoholics are very strong-willed, just not in a positive direction, but this is not their fault. They are suffering emotionally and mentally, and they discovered that substances relieve them of the pain. People get the idea of willpower and drug use confused. Willpower has nothing to do with addiction. If it did, then the people who face dangerous situations fearlessly to get their drugs or alcohol should be able to stop. Bravery and focus constitute willpower. Therefore, we see that willpower is not always a positive attribute, as in the case of addicts and alcoholics.

Why Can’t People Stop Using Drugs or Drinking?

Addiction is pervasive and difficult to overcome. This is because it has to do with emotional and mental pain, old and familiar coping mechanisms, and addiction is a condition of the mind that is always looking for relief. In addition, drugs and alcohol are not the only things someone can abuse. People can use food, exercise, sex, power, shopping, careers, money, and even controlling others to self-medicate. It is a familiar path to see someone recovering from drugs and alcohol attached to outside things the same way they did to substances. It is tricky because the list shown below is often what people use to measure whether a person is happy or healthy:

  • Work and Accomplishments
  • Weight and Physique
  • Money and Possessions
  • Relationships and Romance
  • Careers and Status

Healing Childhood Trauma Begins at EVOKE Massachusetts

The facts are that most people who end up addicted to anything were harmed during their youth or early years. Trauma is complex, and we provide behavioral therapy and trauma counseling to help our patients identify their pain. Our licensed and experienced therapists offer in-depth counseling in a one-on-one format. In addition, Evoke Wellness, MA small group counseling addresses physical abuse, violence in the home, poverty, and drug-abusing parents and caretakers. We can help you safely understand why drugs and alcohol help you. Do not let the hurts you experienced win because of addiction. We have the answer on how to overcome it for good. Call now to talk to our clinical team about treatment.