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What Does Psychology Say About Addiction?

Psychology’s basis of addiction is controversial. The oldest belief, when it comes to addiction, is that the addict lacks self-control. The person wants to abstain from using, but they are unable to resist the temptation, and they lose control over their actions. Psychologists believed that an addict battles with their addiction and wanting to remain abstinent while being able to gain control over their actions. Professionals believe there are two models when it comes to addiction, the disease model of addiction, and the choice model of addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says:

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug. (NIDA)

Drug Addiction is a Disease

The disease model of addiction focuses on addiction being a disease with neurological, biological, genetic, and environmental sources of origin. The medical term for a disease means that an abnormal condition is present that causes discomfort, distress, or dysfunction on the individual that is afflicted. Therefore, addiction is attributed to a genetic predisposition that can be influenced and exacerbated by environmental factors. The medical community over recent years believes addiction is a brain disorder that requires treatment for the individual to recover.

Substance Abuse and Psychology

The choice model of addiction completely contradicts the disease model. It believes that each person has the capability of choosing whether to use drugs or alcohol and therefore, they can also choose to stop. Some believe that initially, an individual chooses to use drugs, and then it develops into brain disease. People that believe in the choice model refuse to accept that disease has anything to do with addiction. Here is the reality of it all, drug addiction is a complex disease, and it usually requires more than good intentions to stop. Often people that don’t understand might ask their loved ones “Why can’t you just stop?” or “Just stop doing it!”, but it’s not that easy. Drugs change the brain making it very difficult even for those that want to just stop. Once addiction has set in a lot of times, depending on the substance, the individual will have very uncomfortable and sometimes even dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. At this point, a lot of addicts will continue down the path of addiction simply out of fear of withdrawal. The only choice they have now is to enter into a treatment facility where they can be medically monitored and given approved medications to offset the withdrawals. Addicts do recover, but it does take time, and they will always be at risk of relapsing and falling back into that cycle of addiction.

Treatment for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available to assist you around the clock. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based treatment programs. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer. Give us a call today.