Is Addiction a Disease?

This is one of the longest standing debates in the addiction treatment industry. There are extremely strong opinions of both sides of the debate and there is evidence to support both the argument for and against addiction as a disease.

As addiction treatment providers here are some of the most common questions we are asked by clients and their families.

  • Is addiction a disease?
  • Is addiction a disease or a choice?
  • Why is addiction a disease?
  • Is addiction a disease or a mental illness?
  • Is substance abuse really a disease?

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

This is the meat and potatoes of the addiction as a disease argument. One side believes that addiction is a brain disease that causes addicts to lose control once they begin using drugs. The other side believes addiction is a moral issue and that the addict wants to continue using or just continually makes bad choices.

Why would an addict continue to use despite the consequences if he or she could just stop? How is it a disease if it starts with a choice to use? Addicts are not bad people they are just sick. Addiction is a disease of bad choices. You don’t have to use the drug therefore it is a choice. Drug use has been proven to change the brain chemistry. There are some of the more common arguments for either side.

While there is merit to both stances, it is the opinion of Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center that Addiction is disease. According to Webster’s Dictionary the definition of a disease is “a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms”. If we simplify the debate to its rudimentary level, addiction clearly meets the criteria laid out by the dictionary definition. But, this is not the only criteria that addiction meets to qualify it as a disease.

Why is Addiction a Disease?

While there is clearly strong opinions and evidence on both sides of the argument, the professionals and experts resoundingly agree that answer to, Is addiction a disease?, is yes.

Lets see what the experts have to say on the, is addiction a disease, argument.

According to NIDA  “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Addiction is the most severe form of a full spectrum of substance use disorders, and is a medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances.”

The AMA has classified addiction as a disease since 1987.

While the debate on is addiction or a disease is prevalent and highly contested, it seems that the people with the knowledge to accurately make the determination decided long ago. Addiction is a disease, at least according to the experts.

So is Substance Abuse a Disease??

To officially answer if addiction is a disease, the answer is yes. Why is addiction a disease? To put it simply because the NIDA and AMA have decided it meets medical criteria to be considered a disease.

At the end of the day though, whether you believe addiction is a disease like we do or not, what is more important is making sure the addict gets the help they need. If you know someone who you think may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, please reach out. We are always happy to help.

If you or a loved one are struggling A New Beginning Awaits, we can help please call:

contact us at (855) 698-3554.