Three Things That Happen When You Call Addiction a Disease
Many people suffering from drug addiction know it’s not a choice they’ve made, but rather a disease over which they have little if any control. However, in today’s society many people believe a person suffering from alcohol and drug addiction is simply choosing to engage in this reckless and life-threatening behavior. The truth of the matter is that no person would choose to harm themselves physically and emotionally by using drugs and alcohol in excessive amounts because to do so often leads to destroyed relationships with family and friends, loss of employment and sometimes criminal activity that leads to time spent in jail. However, when an addiction is recognized as a disease, most people tend to look at it in an entirely different light.
The first thing that happens when an addiction is called a disease is it removes the stigma associated with the condition. Addictions, like many diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, have been shown to run in families and to be just as prevalent as many recognized physical conditions. Once drug addiction is called a disease, a person is able to realize it is not a condition they have chosen for themselves, but rather one in which genetics has played a large part. This lets the person talk more openly about their problems and seek help, knowing the stigma of their condition has been lessened or eliminated.
Another thing that occurs when an addiction is called a disease is the beginning of medical treatment to help get the problem under control. Because drug and alcohol abuse are considered chronic conditions like diabetes, medical treatment focuses on keeping them under control rather than eliminated altogether. Medical treatments can include certain medications being prescribed to help make the conditions easier to manage on a daily basis, drug addiction counseling to help with the psychological and emotional issues that always arise with these conditions and the realization by the patient that there are many factors well beyond their control that are causing their drug addiction problems.
Additionally, when an addiction is recognized as a disease people find there are many more treatment options available to them. In addition to medical treatment, those who are employed will find there are vast resources available to help them fight drug addiction. Employee Assistance Programs, also known as EAP, are made available to employees who find they are suffering from issues such as substance abuse. Recognizing an addiction as a disease will open up many doors previously believed to be shut, letting employees take time off from work if necessary to work through their drug addiction problems while not having to worry about losing their jobs due to their issues. In the past, many employees would choose to suffer in silence rather than tell their employers about a potential problem. As a result, many good people lost jobs simply because their substance abuse problems were seen as personal choices rather than conditions they were genetically predisposed to having. By recognizing substance abuse addiction as a disease, it has allowed those with drug addiction challenges the ability to maintain employment while learning how to manage their condition.
For those of you who may be suffering from problems with drug or alcohol abuse, finding out that drug addiction is now being properly referred to as a disease will allow you to have the courage to step up and ask for help. The stigma of these conditions has been lifted, and now is the time to seek the help you not only need but deserve for your drug addiction. Only when you take that first step can you truly know the road to recovery has started, so there is no better time to do so than now.