There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about drug addiction in this country. When it comes to substance dependence, there is a societal stigma. This often causes those who have substance abuse issues to receive negative treatment or to feel shame.
Drug addiction or substance abuse was seen to be a character flaw for far too long. But recent studies show that anyone can potentially struggle with drug addiction. However, is drug addiction a disease?
At Crest View Recovery Center, we believe in meeting the needs of the client and in treating each person as an individual. We never stigmatize or judge. Let’s explore the disease model of addiction and what it means for recovery.
The Models of Addiction
There are two main models, or approaches, to addiction. Specifically, these are the disease model and the choice model. The choice model has been adopted by many people outside of the medical profession. In this view, it’s a person’s choice to use a substance. Therefore, it’s their fault for facing addiction.
The disease model, on the other hand, views drug or alcohol addiction as a disease. Much like other diseases, addiction is beyond the control of the person. Thus, they should not be blamed for their symptoms. It’s a far more humane view, allowing those with a substance abuse problem to maintain dignity and to feel empowered to get well.
How Is Drug Addiction a Disease?
The overwhelming consensus within the medical community when answering the questions, “Is drug addiction a disease?” is to say that it is. Authorities, such as the American Psychiatric Association, Mayo Clinic and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse all take this stance. Previously, this was not the case which made getting treatment less likely as it would not be covered by health insurance policies.
It’s commonly believed within these circles that drug addiction is a brain disease in which the actual circuits and neural pathways are essentially “re-wired” due to substance use. These changes remain in place even after use stops. Moreover, they argue that physical dependence also exists in many cases. This is through the intense cravings and the development of tolerance to drugs and alcohol.
Despite the fact that individuals may choose to use a drug, the effects on their body and mind are beyond their choice once an addiction develops. The way it affects users and the changes it makes upon their mind are what help to classify addiction as a disease.
Addiction is a Disease: More About How Addiction Affects the Brain
As mentioned earlier, addiction has an impact on the way the brain functions. In a sense, substance abuse causes a re-wiring to occur within the brain. This changes the way the brain (and the entire body) operates.
The scientific explanation of this is that substance abuse affects the brain’s neurotransmission. It changes the way in which the different areas of the brain communicate. Substance abuse also impacts the brain’s reward system, which has to do with various bodily chemicals such as dopamine.
More simply put, when a person continuously and excessively uses alcohol or drugs, the body and brain begin to depend on these substances. This is due to the fact that the body tends to get used to operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol. So, when the person stops using these substances regularly, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms. It’s as if the body and brain can’t function “properly” without drugs or alcohol.
The substances people misuse often cause impairments in various parts of the brain. As a result, it affects functions like impulse control, decision-making, judgment, and more.
Addiction: A Disease That Impacts All Areas of Life
Unfortunately, substance use disorder negatively affects people in many ways. Individuals who suffer from the disease of addiction often struggle in several areas of their lives because of the effects of substance abuse. Addiction impacts people’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It also affects people’s social lives.
Those who suffer from substance abuse may encounter chemical imbalances in their bodies because of the effects of drugs and alcohol. This can cause them to behave much differently than they normally do. They may become more irritable, secretive, angry, tired, dishonest, or hyperactive. Individuals who suffer from addiction may also lose interest in things they once enjoyed.
This may include spending time with friends and family members. As a result, their social lives may change drastically. Instead of being around loved ones, people may begin to spend more time alone or with people who also drink excessively or abuse drugs. Misunderstanding is another reason why people may end up spending more time alone when they’re suffering from substance abuse. Sometimes, family members may have difficulty understanding what people are going through when addiction is present. This can cause arguments and miscommunications to arise. Eventually, it may lead to isolation.
The loneliness, depression, and isolation that come with addiction often make people emotionally ill. The chemical imbalances people experience throughout addiction can also cause emotional problems.
Other problems that might arise from substance use disorder include the following:
- Financial problems
- Relationship problems
- Difficulty keeping a job
- Challenges at school
- Physical health issues
- Legal troubles (i.e. DUI, etc.)
Substance use disorders can also cause families to separate and become distant. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction or you are suffering yourself, know that other families are going through this, too. Help is available for you or your struggling loved one.
How CVRC Can Help You Overcome Substance Use Disorder
When facing a drug or alcohol problem, it’s important to know that substance abuse programs like ours here at Crest View Recovery Center (CVRC) can help. In fact, our expert staff will help you overcome the fears of drug relapse to focus on your recovery.
For example, treatment at CVRC includes:
- Reality therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Rehab treatment
- Holistic treatment
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
Each of these can help people to move forward, leaving addiction in the past. And, here at Crest View, we would be more than happy to assist you!
Ending Addiction Through Our Treatment Programs
We also offer a few treatment programs for those suffering from addiction. For instance, many of our clients may begin their journey to recovery through our inpatient program. During their time in this program, our clients live at our treatment center in order to get the help they need. Throughout the duration of treatment, individuals can spend time around others who are also working through recovery. Also, inpatient treatment allows people to work through the early stages of recovery without the negative influences and distractions of “outside” life.
In an inpatient addiction treatment program, people can simply focus on getting better. They can do so in a safe, substance-free environment. This enables them to get the most out of therapy sessions and other treatment components.
Our clients may also take advantage of our intensive outpatient program (IOP). Although they may not live at a rehab facility during an IOP, individuals can benefit from spending quite a bit of time in treatment every week. Throughout our intensive outpatient program, our clients can develop the skills they will need after treatment. Living a life of sobriety can be a big challenge for many. But, with the tools and resources that our IOP provides, our clients can leave the program feeling prepared!
Finally, we offer an outpatient program. Often, individuals go through outpatient treatment after they complete inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment. Though it’s less intensive than the other programs, outpatient treatment is certainly helpful. While going through this type of program, individuals attend therapy and treatment sessions for a certain number of hours weekly. People who are in an outpatient program may be able to live at home while getting treatment. Some may even hold jobs or go to school throughout their treatment process.
Allow Us to Help You Fight the Disease of Addiction
You don’t have to face your addiction alone. In fact, it’s best that you get the help you need instead of working through recovery by yourself. You can feel confident in knowing there are people who understand your struggle.
Addiction has a way of making people feel helpless and hopeless. It causes individuals to feel alone, believing that no one understands what they’re experiencing. But, if you’ve been suffering from the effects of addiction, it’s time to stand up to this disease. Know that there is certainly hope for you. With the right kind of help, you can and will recover!
Here at Crest View Recovery Center, we strive to help our clients to find light in the midst of their struggles. We truly believe that each individual has the ability to overcome substance abuse. Of course, it takes patience, dedication, commitment, and hard work. But, we will walk with you every step of the way. So, if you are ready to take a step toward recovery, please reach out to us today. Our team is ready to help you find your way to the freedom you deserve! Just contact us by calling (866) 327-2505!