Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

brain full of pills

There is much debate regarding whether addiction is a disease or if someone chooses to engage with the addiction. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse claims that addiction is defined as a disease by most medical organizations, primarily because addiction involves changes of the brain and body. The belief that addiction is a choice stems from the fact that individuals often have a choice in whether they want to consume a substance that is addictive. This initial choice indicates their free will, but even after one-time use a person can become hooked whether they initially meant to or not.

Addiction is labeled as an issue with impulse control; The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) denotes that while a person’s free will begins with their first use, it should not be a basis of judgment because as humans, we all make choices that otherwise wouldn’t be deemed as prudent. The NIDA further mentions that addiction does physically affect the brain, causing chemical changes that may alter their behavior.

Professor Gene Heyman, lecturer of psychology at the Harvard Extension School, takes on the perspective of the choice model of addiction: he believes that the predisposing factors that we have towards addiction are just factors that we can choose whether will influence our behavior. In this sense, he explains that many individuals with an addiction can quit, and it’s because they have made the choice to do so. He goes on to explain that individuals who are unable to quit often have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder that is further complicating their decision to seek treatment and stop.

Based on several debates by organizations and researchers, it seems that both aspects hold some truth. Most people have the choice to decide whether to take a drug or substance, and their knowledge and instincts can inform them of whether this would be the best choice given the dangers and risks involved. A series of uninformed choices can cause chemical changes in the brain which may further inhibit someone from stopping their addictive behavior, especially if they have a psychiatric illness that further perpetuates and triggers feelings that lead back towards the substance that is giving them feelings of contentment and happiness.





If you have an addiction, call us today at 888-958-7511. Avalon Malibu is a California world-renowned treatment center with home-like facilities to give you the space and comfort you need to focus solely on your recovery. We believe in the restoration of mind, body, and spirit, so you will be provided with resources to help you through this process. Make the decision to take back control of your life today. Call us for a consultation.

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