The Disease of Addiction and Treatment Methods

There are many theories concerning the nature of addiction and what it is exactly.Some feel it is a character flaw and lack of self-will; that the addict is a “bad” person whilst others believe that a particular drug, drink, person or location is the problem. A person locked in an addictive problem has definite behaviours which resemble some kind of possession! However, when addiction is classified as a disease, all of the behaviours and outcomes make sense.Addiction and substance abuse are two very different things. Drug and alcohol abuse and dependency can be a part of addiction but are not the only factors involved. The disease of addiction is incurable, progressive and fatal if left untreated but luckily, it can be arrested and recovery maintained.Many addicts ask “if addiction is a disease, why did I get it?” There is no proven explanation. Some say the disease is hereditary; some say it is acquired in childhood from external factors. However both explanations seem likely – there is rarely an addict who cannot identify someone in their immediate family who does not suffer from addiction or display some tendencies. In addition, many addicts can recall childhood behaviour and experiences which were not normal or some kind of trauma.The Symptoms of Addiction
How can you tell if someone is suffering from the disease of addiction? This can be a tricky question to answer, especially seeing as addiction is a progressive disease, but most value the Step 1 statement in the 12 Steps as a good clue: “We realised we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.” Because not everyone who uses drugs, gambles, gets drunk or has a casual sexual encounter is an addict, other factors need to be considered, not only the addictive behaviours.Even though a person’s engagement in obsessive and compulsive behaviour is a primary symptom of addiction, other factors need to be considered: as Step 1 puts it; has the person’s life become unmanageable? Do they engage in addictive behaviours even when it will cause massive negative consequences, disrupting their and other people’s lives? Do they behave in ways which are against their moral values, sacrificing what is important to them to fulfil an obsessive and compulsive need?Different Types of Addictive Behaviour
The disease of addiction is a condition which takes on many different forms of obsessive and compulsive behaviour, looking constantly for an outlet to cause destruction and escape.Addiction manifests itself in many different ways. The most common are obsessive and compulsive behaviours surrounding alcohol, drugs, relationships, sex, gambling, cutting and self-harm, eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia nervosa and compulsive overeating) and co-dependence.It is reasonably common for a person addicted to one type of addictive behaviour to act out on another one. A person acting out on drug use for example, can suffer from an active eating disorder or self-mutilation problem as well. In addition, an interesting occurrence is what happens when one addictive behaviour is taken away without any treatment of the addict’s underlying problems – the addiction begins to manifest itself in some other form of obsessive compulsive disorder. This is due to the fact that the drugs, the sex, the alcohol, the gambling, et cetera are not the main issue; they are a symptom of the problem. The main issue is the person and the disease.This is why an alcoholic can stop drinking but remains miserable and unhappy: they are a dry drunk. The problem has not been attended to, only the symptom. Drug addicts can be addicted to any drug, many of which have no physical dependency side effects, once again illustrating how drugs are not the main issue behind drug addiction: the disease is.The disease of addiction also coincides with the mistaken theory of many addicts that the problem is one particular drug, the area in which they live, the specific type of whisky that they drink or some similar factor.Because addiction is a disease, these factors are irrelevant: if someone is drinking whisky instead of vodka because they tend to drink only vodka and believe that that drink is the particular problem which makes them lose control, they are still drinking and will still lose control. The main point to consider about the disease of addiction is that it makes the addict powerless. Once they have had one drink, one line, one prostitute; they have no control over their actions or behaviours and are led by their disease.Addiction Help and Treatment
There are many different types of treatment available for addiction and some have a higher success rate than others.Some centres focus on labour, healthy living and spiritual instruction to break the cycle of addiction; however this does not treat the disease, only the symptoms. Other treatments focus only on therapy, helping the addict to understand and process their issues, yet this does not provide them with a programme of recovery to maintain their sobriety.The most effective method of treatment involves a combination of all three of these methods. Addicts receiving therapy for their problems in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and a programme of recovery, such as the Twelve Steps, and attendance at 12 Step meetings to help them stay focused on abstinence have been shown to be the most successful.An addict is suffering from a disease. They are not a bad person, they are not weak willed; they have a disease and are sick individuals who need treatment and recovery, just as with any other illness.