Addiction Is NOT A Choice
Start writing a post

I am an addict.


These are words I never thought I would be forced to admit to myself or to those around me, but here we are.

For the past year, I have been struggling with a substance abuse problem, resulting in an overdose-induced seizure and landing me in a rehab facility in Tampa, Florida. The past month and a half have been, probably, the most trying time of my life.

For so long, I have used alcohol and drugs to numb myself to the entire spectrum of human emotions.


Rehab has forced me, without the use of my substance crutches, to feel all my emotions all at once, rather than ignoring and suppressing them. It has been extremely overwhelming and unimaginably painful but, this experience has also been undeniably freeing.

Each day brings me a new lesson I can draw upon from my life experiences -good and bad- and, further, each lesson brings me a little bit more strength to love who I am.

The recovery program I am a part of approaches addiction from every perspective from a holistic and educational standpoint. In my time here, the most important lesson I've learned is that addiction is a disease, not a choice. While there is a choice component to addiction, in that every addict chooses to use or seek out a drink or drug for the first time, what we cannot control is the chemical response in our brains, on a biological level, which occurs after that first choice.

This choice does not determine whether or not you're an addict however, in an addict's brain, the addiction is activated by the first use of a substance. In this sense, addiction is better categorized as a disease because a disease is not a behavior and, when it comes down to it, we have a disease, we do not act out a disease.

In fact, addiction meets all of the criteria required to categorize a condition as a disease:

  1. A disease is progressive in that it is long term and continues to worsen over time as tolerance builds.
  2. A disease is primary in that it is the root cause of its own set of symptoms and these symptoms display the same across population demographics.
  3. A disease is fatal if not treated and managed.
  4. A disease is chronic in that there is no known cure and, as for addiction, pathological use reoccurs.
  5. A disease is predictable in that it follows a pattern with an identifiable set of symptoms and prognosis is predictably poor with continued use.
  6. A disease is relapseable in that the choice to stay absent or not is present with treatment only.
  7. A disease is arrestable when it can be ceased through management and treatment.

Obviously, no one wakes up one morning and decides to become an addict, I know I didn't. For me, the descent into addiction was slow, barely noticeable, and I began to carry so much guilt and shame about my problem that I was, in time, completely consumed by denial. I was unable to admit to myself my problem and, thus, to ask for help. I was overwhelmed with the fear of being shamed, judged and ridiculed because of the stigmas surrounding substance abuse.

I think it is extremely important for us to change the way we think about addiction and to remember that no one would willingly choose to live this way.

The addict brain is wired differently so, our first drink or the use of some other mind-altering substance was an experience very far from that of the average person. For us, partying, drinking and doing drugs went from being something occasional and recreational to something necessary for survival.

I am grateful to be alive today, to have this opportunity to get the help I need and to acquire the skills I need to stay sober and live a happy, healthy life - to live the life I deserve.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

23 Pandemic-Approved Date Ideas That'll Send Sparks Flying From Six Feet Apart

There's a safe way to date right now and yes, it includes masks.


While some people would rather opt out of dating altogether during the pandemic so they don't have to wear a mask on a first date, others are choosing to listen to both guidelines and their heart in order to find love during the time of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should you be one of the individuals welcoming romance right now, there are pandemic-approved dates you can go on that still adhere to guidelines (and yes, you'll have to wear a mask).

Keep Reading... Show less

I didn't believe the notification when it came through to my phone: Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died from complications due to cancer.

Keep Reading... Show less

In our patriarchal society, men hide from their feelings, but toxic masculinity is literally killing men. They swallow the pain and move on so that they can look, feel, and act "tough."

But, strength is derived from asking for help and voicing your struggle and, trust me, working on your mental health is one hell of a struggle. The real way to "man up" is to acknowledge the downfalls in unjust societal norms. Mental health problems do not mean that a man is weak, they are neurologically-based disorders that require professional treatment.

Keep Reading... Show less

11 Things Your Boyfriend Should Do Before He Drops $499 On A PS5

Let's start with spending less time gaming and more time with you.


Scrolling through Twitter this week had me rolling on the floor laughing as I read some of the hilarious tweets from ladies who, whether in a relationship or not, shared reactions to the news that PlayStation 5 is on its way

As this "buy your boyfriend a PS5" joke takes off across the internet, let's just say, there are a few things your BF should be doing before dropping $499 on the new gaming system — or, if the tweets are real for some, before you buy it for him as a gift.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Sorry, But 'I Don’t Care About Politics' Is Not A Valid Excuse For NOT Voting

The younger generation of voters is so crucial to the upcoming election because our vote is going to shape the world that we are about to enter as adults.


When I ask my friends if they are voting this term most of them respond with "no" followed by an explanation of "I don't care enough," "It doesn't affect me," or "I don't keep up with politics," etc. I get it, as a college student I know that there are many other things to be concerned about like school, relationships, work, and friends. I also understand that keeping up with politics can seem like trying to keep up with an over-exaggerated reality show that has way too many seasons. Not to mention most news stations and websites are biased so it's hard to decipher if what you hear is true or fake.

However, despite all of this annoyance, as the next generation of Americans, we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and to our futures to care.

Keep Reading... Show less
Tasia Sli

Tasia Sli and Anna Yang met in quintessential New York fashion at a chic rooftop event, inquisitive Yale grad Anna gravitating towards model/entrepreneur Tasia.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Anna Hernández-Buces

"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"

Keep Reading... Show less

Two of my favorite things in life are reading and books. Obviously, they go hand-in-hand. In my life, I've realized that there is nothing better than learning about the current world or getting fully immersed in another world. Reading can inspire, teach, and entertain you.

For me, the feeling of opening a book and smelling that fresh book smell can't compete with anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less

Expecting mother and wife to singer/songwriter John Legend may have accidentally slipped up and revealed the gender of her and Legend's third baby today on her Instagram story.

Keep Reading... Show less

20 Books About Latin And Hispanic Heritage Absolutely Everyone Should Have On Their Bookshelf

Any ally of the community needs to be reading these incredible reads.


I go through phases when it comes to what I like to read. I am typically reading two books at any given time: one serious nonfiction and one escapist fiction novel to have on hand and open up depending on my mood.

What remains consistent, however, amongst most of my fellow bibliophiles is a desire to try new and different authors and genres. I, as an Indian woman, have been partial to reading books written by fellow Indian and Desi writers since I first got a library card.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked 46 Women What They Thought About The Term 'Plus-Size', And Here's What They Had To Say

It's 2020, where change is inevitable and norms are not only questioned, but challenged.


We live in a world where it's become customary to push boundaries, break rules, and question standards upheld by society. Though try as we might, some of these standards are harder to conquer than others — body image is one of the top contenders.

For years, the body positivity movement has pushed for the acceptance of all marginalized body types not represented or celebrated in the media. Recently, we've gotten better at appreciating and accepting all body types, but one thing that's still lingering is the stigma of body image in the fashion industry — more specifically, the term "plus-size."

Keep Reading... Show less

Many popular TV shows are holding off premiers until spring, so most people are relying on their television subscriptions to get them through a socially distant fall semester.

Thankfully, Netflix was busy filming this past year because there is a ton of new original content coming in the near future. From mysteries to romances, here are some of the best new shows you have to check out this year:

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift Sang 'betty' At The ACMs And It Was The Perfect First Live 'folklore' Performance

I guarantee that Inez is spreading rumors about how fire this performance was.


The Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and the performances were wonderful, but Taylor Swift's live version of "betty" from her newest album "folklore" really took the cake for me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

9 Reasons I Unfollowed All The Fitness Influencers On My Instagram Feed

I don't need to feel bad about myself because of who I follow on social media.


Throughout quarantine, something that a lot of us picked up on was working out. With all the free time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on that "dream bod" you've been wanting for years, or to just feel good about yourself.

A common way to stay motivated and keep yourself on-task is to follow fitness influencers on various platforms. For some people, yes, this can be a healthy and helpful way to keep your drive. In other cases, however, this can do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments