Addiction Is A Disease, Whether They Choose It Or Not

Addiction Is A Disease, Whether They Choose It Or Not

Scientifically. Medically. Literally. Addiction is a disease.

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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.

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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If Your Friend Is Showing These 5 Signs, They May Be Depressed

People often suffer in silence, check up on your friends.

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Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States, especially among young adults and college students. Chances are, you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Many people suffer in silence, not wanting to burden others with what they are facing on a daily basis. If you have noticed these signs in your friends or loved ones, it may be time to reach out and let them know that you are there for them.

1. Loss of interest.

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People suffering from depression often lack the enthusiasm for things they used to enjoy. They might stay in more than they used to, or stop participating in clubs and other activities. This might lead to skipping class or calling into work on a more frequent basis.

If you have noticed your friend withdrawing from the activities that used to bring them happiness, or bailing on responsibilities, this might be a sign of something more going on. Reach out to them and try to make plans that don't involve a lot of planning or effort. Something as simple as staying in and watching a movie could help them more than you think.

2. Change in sleep patterns.

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A change in sleep habits is a major warning sign of depression. The lack of energy that often accompanies this mental illness can lead to excessive sleeping and increased the frequency of naps throughout the day.

On the other hand, people suffering from depression might also experience insomnia. If your friend appears to be sleeping too much or not enough, it might be due to something out of their control.

3. Substance abuse.

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This sign of depression can be harder to detect, especially in college students. If you have noticed an increase in drinking or smoking in your friend, especially outside of social situations, this might be something to keep an eye on.

People with depression might drink by themselves more often, or use substances as a way to escape the way they are feeling. Many college students have probably done this on occasion to destress after a bad week, but it might be a sign of depression if it starts to become a habit.

4. Changes in mood.

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As you have probably heard before, depression is associated with feelings of sadness and helplessness. Other changes in mood, such as sudden aggression or irritability can also be brought on by depression.

Someone suffering from depression might appear more hostile and argumentative than they used to, especially in situations where you might not see that behavior as 'justified'. It is important to know that depression can affect your mood in a multitude of ways, it is not only feeling sad.

5. Withdrawing from friends and family.

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People suffering from depression often become much more introverted than before. They will cancel plans, stop reaching out to their friends and family, and become less active on social media.

Reach out to your friends and check on them, especially if you haven't heard from them in a while. Send them a text, call them, or try to make plans. Even if they end up canceling plans, the gesture means more than you might realize.

People with depression are often very good at hiding it, even from those closest to them. If you have noticed these warning signs in your friends or family, reach out to them and let them know you are there for them. If you have noticed these signs in yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help whether it is professionally or within your friend group.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24 hours a day, every day.

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