Many people have either experienced addiction or watched others go through it. I myself have struggled with addiction in the past, and I have some things to say to everybody who believes drug addiction isn't a disease because it starts with a choice.
A choice is defined as an act of selecting or making a decision with two or more possibilities. When people decide to do a drug for the first time, they likely are not sitting there thinking, "the possibilities of me doing this are x, y, and z" - they just do it. Now, while somebody should have the thought process including possible outcomes with almost everything they do for sake of responsibility, that's not always how humans act. Humans are impulsive and we like doing things that make us feel good.
The idea of "it isn't a disease because it starts with a choice" is absolutely ridiculous. If your logic is that anything beginning with a choice is a disease, then we need to start cutting out HUGE portions of medical research and evidence-based facts because of your frivolous opinion.
This would mean STD's that could lead to cancer, such as HPV, is not a disease because somebody made the choice to have unprotected sex. This would mean that a disease like bulimia nervosa shouldn't be considered a disease because that person made a choice to throw up their meal. This would mean that you think so many fatal and life-threatening conditions aren't diseases because they start with a choice. It's wrong. People are inclined to still believe HPV, bulimia, etc. are still diseases because we do inherently realize that making a certain choice isn't always asking for a specific outcome. But if they start with a choice, so how are they any different from addiction to a drug?
Another question I have is this: Do you belittle all addicts or just those addicted to drugs? Do you also refuse to show empathy for sex addicts? Exercise addicts and coffee addicts? What about those addicted to playing video games? Do they receive the same lack of empathy and care because they made that first choice to play a game, have sex, or drink coffee? Probably not. Drugs are demonized far more than any other type of addiction, which goes to show how hypocritical this thought process can become.
Also, if you knew anything and did actual research into what addiction is, you would also know that addiction isn't always a matter of willpower. "Just stop doing drugs" or "don't do drugs in the first place" does nothing to help anybody. People are going to do what they want, often not thinking of long-term consequences. Being addicted to anything, especially a drug, heavily messes with the basic chemistry of your brain and body.
Once you've done a drug enough to not be able to function without it, your brain's chemistry is altered. (Here's more specific info on the way drugs affect brain chemistry)
We are biologically conditioned to repeat activities that cause us pleasure and release dopamine. The increasing levels of dopamine that's attached to a certain activity, makes it easier for us to repeat these things without thinking more of consequences, because of how your chemistry has been altered.
These people shouldn't be cast aside for something everybody does. We are all addicted to something, whether you admit it or not because everything changes your chemistry and biological tendencies.
Drug use, or trying a drug, is a choice. Addiction, a disease that alters the most basic functions of your body and mind, is not. We need to treat these people, offer rehabilitation, let them know that there is help if they want it. While some people don't want to get better, there are thousands more fighting withdrawals and urges every single day that need support.
Be a better person, be empathetic, and help the people that want to be helped. Offer those resources and think about the fact that maybe addiction isn't a choice, just like any other disease isn't.