Disease Concept Vs Choice Model Addiction

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DiseaseConcept Vs Choice Model Addiction

DiseaseConcept Vs Choice Model Addiction

Overthe years, it has been widely known and perceived that addiction is adisease. The perception which is commonly referred to as diseaseconcept is highly taught in rehabilitation training programs as wellas to patients undergoing treatment programs. The disease concept hasbeen widely accepted such that the media and public figures have notshown interest in questioning this idea. The big question, therefore,is whether the disease concept is valid and if it is not, is there aclear and better definition of addiction? In the past, before thecoming of disease concept, people suffering from addiction were soprejudiced and discriminated by the society than it is present (Brown&amp West, 2013). The addicted folks were considered as differentand worse compared to ordinary people. Addicts were perceived to lackmorals and ordinary discipline, uncaring and self-centered. Suchpeople were only seen as people who are just fulfilling theirpleasures regardless of anyone else as well as having some characterdeficiencies.

Afterthe emergence of the idea that addiction is just like any otherailment like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and tuberculosis, itcame to be known that addicts are not as bad but just sick. The ideabrought a significant change in perception of addicts whereperceptions on addicts were now less judgmental. Upon the embracementof the disease concept by virtually everyone, it has brought morebenefits to addicts perception. However, there has been a widespreadenthusiasm for the disease concept prompting to some willingness toreconsider the facts. This has been prompted by the big contrast incomparing pure diseases with addiction. For instance, addiction doesnot have a pathological biological process to diseases such as indiabetes and no infectious agent like in tuberculosis (Ross, 2013).The only relationship between addiction and a real disease is that ifaddiction is not dealt with, the addict’s life tends to get worse.Addictiveness is brought by emotional events that can be prevented byidentifying what makes the events so emotional. The cause ofemotionally significant events that leads to addictive events can bethen replaced by other emotionally beneficial actions that don’tlead to addictions.

However,despite the contrast between the two, scraping the disease conceptcan be only through replacing it with a more valid concept. Areplacement to the disease concept should retain the beneficialaspects of the disease concept. Any new idea should not bringnegative attributions or moralization of those suffering fromaddiction. An alternative concept should be one that has more valuesthan the disease concept (Brown &amp West, 2013). It should be onethat offers what the disease concept lacks and provide solutions thatwould help in treating the addiction problem. In considering factorsaround addiction, it can be regarded as a psychological symptom.Addiction is just like any other compulsive behavior like exercising,cleaning clothes or shopping. Despite addiction causing more seriousproblems, it is just like any other common behavior. The diseaseconcept is regarded as a theory where addiction is regarded asanything regarded as a disease. The behavior of addiction is one thatmakes it be regarded as a disease just like seizure or pneumonia aresigns of a disease and not the disease itself.

Asit stands, no scientific data or research has proved that addictionis a disease. Addiction to alcohol or drugs cannot obviously be adisease, calling it as such calls for a redefinition of word disease.This is curtailed by the fact that, in a real disease some part ofthe body experiences some abnormal physiological functioning causingsome undesirable symptoms. In a real disease like cancer, the mutatedcells are responsible for the physiological abnormalities in affectedparts of the body. Similarly, in diabetes disease is caused by thelow amount of insulin production in the body. Looking at addictionin this perspective, it can be called a brain disease only becausethe drugs alters the brain’s structure and workability (Schaler,2011). Such effects in the brain can have lasting effects that resultto uncalled behaviors practiced by those who abuse drugs.

Thesebrain changes can be long lasting and can lead to the harmfulbehavior s seen in people who abuse drugs. NIDA has categoricallysaid that the only reason addiction can be regarded as a disease isthe changes in the brain where the changes cause a behavior calledaddiction. Nevertheless, NIDA findings on addiction have been highlychallenged by neuroplasticity research. The research has indicatedthat the brain undergoes tremendous changes whenever one changes thethinking. The brain changes such as growing neuronal pathways, newconnections emerge, and some parts of the brain either becomes moreor less active depending on how one uses the brain (Ekhtiari&ampPaulus, 2016). The neuroplasticity of the brain is a term thatemerged upon the discovery of the brain’s ability to change itsfunction and structure. NIDA’s argument is therefore challengedbecause the changes in the addict’s brain are considered as routineneuroplastic changes that occur naturally in the brain of a healthyfunctioning person. The brain changes are therefore not isolated tothe addicts only but to anyone with a functioning brain.

Neuroplasticityresearch has proved that the brain is changed by the intensity of thework it does. The more one focuses on a particular thought, skill oractivity the more the brain is likely to undergo changes. Accordingto the research, there is a very tangible difference between thebrain of someone who applies a lot of focus on a particular skill andthat of another who hasn’t put the focus on the skill such as inthe case of a study done on London taxi drivers and non-drivers(Schaler, 2011). It is, therefore, true to say that practicing onsomething makes one better in doing it due to a physiological changein the brain. The principle also applies to anyone who dedicateshis/her life in drug abuse.

Accordingto the recent studies, it proves that addiction is not a disease.This is brought by the fact that any disease would involve somephysiological malfunction and the change in addict’s brain does notshow any sign of brain malfunction. The changes that have been seenin addict’s brain are just normal caused by how the mind works suchas thinking and practicing intensively and not by substance use. Inmany people, after comparing the various research is that any form ofaddiction does not have any physiological category. Instead,addiction is best seen as a form of normality or as a form oflearning to be precise.

Inthe modern society, it is very important to accept the truth onwhether or not addiction is a brain disease. When people continuewith the unproven perception that addiction is a brain disease itonly leads people around circles through undergoing lengthy,pointless, costly and painful road of ineffective treatment programs(Schaler, 2011). People finally end up wasting a lot of time andfinally comes out without getting a permanent solution. By examiningthe evidence about addiction and eliminating the idea that addictionis a disease, people can accept that addiction is a matter of choice.Through this, people can seize going to rehabs and start finding areal solution within themselves.

Justlike in any other illness, the beginning of the control has a lot ofstruggles. As time goes by, the control on addiction becomes evenmore difficult to achieve. In the end, the addiction is achieved onlythrough quitting. In many cases, quitting and relapsing have provenand indicated to be effective in diagnosing addiction. Most of thevictims of addiction who quit the use of drugs have been found to be30 years of age. Those quitting addictions do it without anyprofessional help. The correlation of quitting can be attributed toeconomic pressures, desire to command respect from family and friendsas well as legal concerns. Moreover, addiction is a bad disorder thatis not in any way beneficial to the victim in the long run. Despitethe embracement of the disease model of addiction, it does not havesubstantial support from scientific research or logic. Regardless ofthe disease model of addiction past helpfulness in eliminating victimvictimization in the society, it is the high time people do withoutthe idea. The idea only explains nothing and offers no idea in thetreatment of the addiction. Moreover, it hinders the discovery ofnewer methods of understanding and treatment of the addiction.


Brown,J., &amp West, R. (2013). Theory of addiction. Place of publicationnot identified: Wiley-


khtiari,H., &amp Paulus, M. (2016). Neuroscience for Addiction Medicine.Elsevier Science

Ross,D. (2013). What is addiction?. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Schaler,J. (2011). Addiction Is a Choice. New York: Open Court.