According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) “addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease.” The article Drugs, Brains, and Behaviors, the Science of Addiction, describes a specific addiction, such as a drug addiction as a brain disease by explaining how an addiction changes the body normal health functioning and effects the brain structure and performance. It also explains that addiction is a developmental disease and it begins in childhood/adolescence (NIDA). In the article addiction was compared to other diseases such as heart disease. In comparison the author describes both heart disease and brain disease (addiction) as two different diseases that both causes harmful consequences if not treated. The article also explains in comparison to other diseases, addiction effects each person differently and there is no single indication or factor that determines who will have an addiction. Biological and Environmental factors are described as risk of addiction.
In the article drug related addiction impairs an individual self-control. The author describes self-control as the “hallmark” of addiction. According to scientist the images display physical changes causing mental problems and destructive behaviors. Scientific research finds addiction to be a disease that affects the brain and behavior causing physical and developmental changes to the brain. In the article scientist uses the study of drug abuse to argue what they identified as “myth” related to those who just see addiction as power/self-control. The results proved individuals who suffers from addiction lack will power and should be treated as a health problem not life failure.
In the article Understanding the Disease of Addiction, (Angres & Angres, 2007) describes addiction as a “biopsychosocial disease process, not a choice”. The authors explain addiction as “the ongoing use of mood-altering substances, such as alcohol and drugs despite adverse consequences” (Angres & Angres, 2007). Like stated in the article Drugs, Brains, and Behaviors, the Science of Addiction, Angres & Angres believes genetics, psychosocial, and environmental factors play a significant role in forming/developing the disease in which they call addiction. The authors discuss both the physical and development changes in the brain that controls an individual decision-making skill, learning and memory. The authors also explain that everyone does not see addiction as a disease, instead they view it as a choice or lack of self-control. Angres & Angres explains the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to argue that addiction is a disease/illness that cause significant impartment and distress.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a primary, chronic disease. The article Public Policy Statement: provides several types/forms of treatment for the illness. Unlike others who argue addiction is related to factors that can be treated with power of self-control, in the article clinical intervention and medication is listed as treatment for addiction due to a person inability to control the brain that causes cravings once it is damaged for an extended period.
In the article, Addiction is a Brain Disease the counter argument that addiction is not a disease is challenged by research that is conducted to prove and help others understand the health aspect of addiction rather than the need to control addiction. In the article, it explains by viewing addiction as a disease will help reduce relapses by focusing on effective treatment related to the health of an individual with an addiction verses focusing on if the addiction was a choice. The article also discusses other strategies that includes breaking down factors that contributes to addiction such as environmental factors. It also discusses how the scientific evidence also show addiction treatment is cost efficient/affordable. Instead of blaming addicts as if they create their own problem, coming together and realizing and acknowledging that it is a brain disease and impairs people ability to make decisions, learning and memory is the best way to approach addiction and provide effective treatment.
Although many argue that addiction is a disease. There are also studies and research that shows addiction is not a disease and why it is believed to be a choice due to factor such as peer pressure, and deciding to do what others do, or not being able to control their addiction because they do not want to, because they ae fully capable of making their own choices.
Addiction is not a disease based on the Social Learning Theory, environmental factors, biological factors, and peer pressure. Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in substance abuse such as alcohol, inhalants, narcotics, and opioids (Capece & Lanza-Kaduce, 2013). People who have favorable attitudes toward substance abuse, whose friends and family use are more likely to engage in this behavior (Best et al., 2015). This condition provides the person with rewarding effects that activates the brains reward pathway that releases dopamine, this chemical will cause the person to continue this behavior despite the consequences (Wiens and Walker, 2014). Addiction is not a disease, it’s a learn behavior that people learn faster than others. The Social Learning Theory states that people learn from watching others. Also, many addictive and destructive behaviors are learned from watching others abuse substances in the process (Best et al., 2015). If an individual observes the behavior, they will be more likely to mimic the destructive behavior.
Genes are biological factors that may impact the brain’s genetic makeup that may or may not increase the vulnerability to a condition of addiction (Wiens and Walker, 2014). While researching this topic, there was a study that consisted of college students and binge drinking. This study was conducted on eight diverse college campuses across the United States, this survey provided data that virtually all residents of sororities and fraternity’s drink 99% of men and 98% of women (Ford, 2008). This study also proved that within the same study 86% of fraternity members and 71% of non-fraternity members engage in binge drinking (Ford,2008). Non-fraternity or sorority members are more likely to abstain from alcohol. This study proves that addiction is a learned behavior and depending on the environmental factors will put people at a greater risk to develop addictive behaviors.
The release of dopamine the brain creates an overstimulated reward system. Those parts of the brain are activated when we engage in sexual activities or when we eat our favorite food. When one is given the choice to do drugs or eat our favorite food, one would choose the drugs because the amount of dopamine released is greater than the amount released with the food (Straub, 2017). This study was proven when rats were given jolts to the brain as they pulled a lever, the rats pulled the lever thousands of times to gain pleasure (Straub, 2017). In conclusion to addiction not being a disease but a conscious choice. This behavior is learned socially, enabled by the environment and our peers. If addiction is a disease, why do so many people relapse continuously? Addiction is not a disease, but an unwise decision people make to get a release of dopamine from the brains reward system.
Best, D., Beckwith, M., Haslam, C., Haslam, S. A., Jetten, J., Mawson, E., ; Lubman, D. I. (2015). Overcoming alcohol and other drug addiction as a process of social identity transition: The social identity model of recovery (SIMOR). Addiction Research ; Theory,24(2), 111-123. doi:10.3109/16066359.2015.1075980
Capece, M., ; Lanza-Kaduce, L. (2013). Binge Drinking Among College Students: A Partial Test of Akers’ Social Structure-Social Learning Theory. American Journal of Criminal Justice,38(4), 503-519. doi:10.1007/s12103-013-9208-4
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Ford, J. A. (2008). Social Learning Theory And Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use Among Adolescents. Sociological Spectrum,28(3), 299-316. doi:10.1080/02732170801898471
Norman, L. B., & Ford, J. A. (2015). Adolescent Ecstasy Use: A Test of Social Bonds and Social Learning Theory. Deviant Behavior,36(7), 527-538. doi:10.1080/01639625.2014.944072
Nutt, D. J., Lingford-Hughes, A., Erritzoe, D., & Stokes, P. R. (2015). The dopamine theory of addiction: 40 years of highs and lows. Nature Reviews Neuroscience,16(5), 305-312. doi:10.1038/nrn3939
Straub, R. O. (2017). Health psychology: A biopsychosocial approach. New York: Worth , Macmillan Learning.
Wiens, T. K., & Walker, L. J. (2014). The chronic disease concept of addiction: Helpful or harmful? Addiction Research & Theory,23(4), 309-321. doi:10.3109/16066359.2014.987760
Angres, K. B., MS,RN,APN,CADC, & Angres, D. H., MD. (n.d.). Understanding the Disease of Addiction. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 1(2), 31-37. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.ncsbn.org/Understanding_the_Disease_of_Addiction.pdf (2007, April). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior, The Science of Addiction. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/soa_2014.pdfLeshner, A. I. (n.d.). Addiction is a brain disease. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://www.csam-asam.org/sites/default/files/pdf/misc/brain_disease.pdf (2011, August 15). Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction. Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/public-policy-statements/1definition_of_addiction_long_4-11.pdf?sfvrsn=a8f64512_4