Research shows that 19.7 million adults in the U.S. battled with some form of drug addiction in 2017. However, many people don’t understand that drug addiction is a disease that affects the brain.
Instead, users are stigmatized for their addiction and even for pursuing a drug recovery program. This lack of education and stigmatization of drug addiction prevents people from getting the help they need to overcome their addiction.
In this article, we discuss how drug addiction is a disease and how working with a drug rehab center can help get an addict back on track to a healthier lifestyle. Continue reading to learn why addiction isn’t the result of corrupt morals.
What Is Drug Addiction?
How medical professionals define drug addiction plays a role in how the public perceives it. What was once viewed as a moral failing is now viewed as a medical condition.
Drug addiction, otherwise known as substance use disorder, is now defined as a chronic disease affecting the brain. This disease affects the addict’s behavior and often requires ongoing medical attention.
Addiction As a Disease vs. a Moral Failing
While professionals agree that initial drug use is a choice, ongoing addiction is not. There are several factors that influence one’s likelihood of becoming an addict.
The argument that addiction is a moral failing relates, in some cases, to the idea of responsibility. They believe that labeling addiction as a disease means the user has no ownership of their actions, but that’s not the case.
In reality, addiction affects decision-making and prioritization, but not the ability to decide between what’s right and wrong.
However, they also agree that the argument over whether the issue is moral or medical isn’t helpful in regard to treatment. The argument shouldn’t be over whether addiction is right or wrong.
It’s more important to accept that it exists and decide how to educate ourselves about it so we can treat it.
What Factors Contribute to Addiction?
The history of drug addiction demonstrates a tie between the disease and other factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle choices.
For example, one study found that a child is twice as likely to develop a drug addiction if either of their parents has a drug addiction. This explains how nearly half of a person’s risk of addiction is based on genetics.
Environmental influences that may eventually lead someone to a drug rehab center include peer pressure, neglect, and abuse. Certain people and lifestyle situations also prove triggering for those recovering from addiction.
How Does Drug Addiction Affect the Brain?
The brain changes as a result of drug addiction, which is something discussed when patients go to rehab. The change initiates as the body reacts pleasurably to addictive substances, causing the brain to release dopamine.
Specialists can see a difference in chemical reactions in the brain of a person with an addiction in comparison to a person without an addiction.
The addict’s brain motivates them to repeatedly seek out the substance through cravings. These cravings can be managed with the help of a drug rehab facility.
The brain’s pleasure sensors become overwhelmed with each use and try to bring the body back to a more neutral state. This makes it harder to get the same pleasurable feeling from the substance as time goes on. Addicts have to use more of the same substance to experience the same feeling.
How Can Rehab Help?
Working with a drug rehabilitation center is essential in overcoming addiction. Drug recovery programs such as True Life Recovery in Orange County, CA, can help addicts undergo the detox process and get the help they need.
The process of detoxing can be dangerous, not just uncomfortable. For this reason, a drug rehab facility or detox facility helps keep patients safe with close monitoring and treatment.
Past detox, a drug recovery program can help prevent relapse. When cravings and triggers are at their strongest, it can be difficult to fight through them. However, if you go to rehab, they can provide tools to manage addiction and not feel powerless against it.
What Role Does a Relapse Play?
While relapse is often viewed negatively or like a failure, it’s often an expected part of the treatment process. Drug addiction requires ongoing evaluation and adjustments to treatment plans to achieve a change in behavior.
In reality, the process of detoxification, medication, therapy, and relapse may be an ongoing routine until the drug addiction is well-managed. The process of redirecting the brain’s pathways and rebuilding the patient’s self-esteem takes time to achieve.
Instead of viewing relapses as failures, it’s essential that they’re viewed as a need for alternate or restored treatment. Plus, the reduced stigma from relapsing can help motivate the user to continue with treatment instead of giving up entirely because they ‘failed.’
How Long Does Addiction Last?
A drug rehabilitation center may provide treatment for a few weeks to a few months. However, there is no specific timeframe recommended for a drug recovery program since everyone has their own individual needs and motivations.
However, while a drug recovery program may last a few weeks or a few months, addiction is a lifelong struggle. There is no cure for addiction. It requires ongoing care and ongoing work with an addiction professional to successfully manage the disease.
Can Drug Addiction Be Prevented?
In order to avoid needing a drug rehab facility and a lifelong battle with addiction, the best thing a person can do is avoid it altogether. The best way is to prevent the introduction of drugs to the body.
If prescription drugs are required for an illness, it’s important to talk with your doctor about using them responsibly. The instructions on the label should be followed to avoid overuse and misuse.
Fighting the Disease
Drug addiction is a lifelong disease that requires constant vigilance to overcome. It’s incorrect to view ongoing addiction as a failing of a person’s morality. The disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed with treatment and support.
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