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Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

a person stares out of a window pondering if addiction is a disease or a choice

Getting hooked on drugs or alcohol can ruin a life. Often, people struggling with addiction ruin their careers, finances, and families because they cannot stop getting drunk or high even as their world crumbles around them. Are they choosing to throw their progress away? Or are they destined to struggle with substances because of their genes?

Struggling with addiction, regardless of how it started, requires help. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, Northpoint Recovery can help. Our team creates your personalized treatment plan in a substance abuse treatment program to help you succeed in sobriety.

What Is Addiction?

Taking substances or engaging in behaviors in excess often causes people to gain an increased tolerance, which means they will seek increasingly high doses to feel the same effects. This increased tolerance then leads to mental and physical dependence, which causes the person to require the substance or behavior to function normally. Being dependent on the substance or behavior is a sure sign of addiction.

01 what is addiction

Many experts say addiction is a disease that forces people to abuse substances or behaviors even after experiencing adverse side effects.  In other words, addiction is not a choice—it’s a disease that causes someone to compulsively seek out a substance of behavior even when they know it’s harmful.

What Is Addictive?

People easily recognize that substances like drugs and alcohol are addictive but may not realize that things like work, pornography, and video games can also lead to addictive behavior.

02 types of addiction

Substance and behavior addictions work similarly and can be destructive to a person’s life. Addictive behaviors and substances often trigger the brain’s reward center, which in turn causes a person to feel temporarily happy. Once the activity is over, or the drug wears off, the feeling ends. People who experience this often go back for more to feel it again.

Why Does Addiction Continue?

People addicted to a substance or behavior will continue to seek it out even after it causes problems in their lives. Some experts say this is because addiction changes the brain in ways that make it difficult to quit. With continued use, the brain starts to adapt and change in response to the presence of the drug or behavior. These changes then make it difficult for people to function without it.

03 motivation addiction

As addiction continues, it can often be recognized by symptoms like:

  • An inability to control the use of the substance or behavior
  • A preoccupation with the substance or behavior
  • Persistent use despite negative consequences
  • Cravings for the substance or behavior

How Do Genetics Impact Addiction?

There is no single cause of addiction, but genetics play a role. As many as 40 to 60 percent of people with addiction have a family member who also struggles with substance abuse.

This may be because changes in the brain partly cause addiction. And, just like other diseases that are caused by changes in the brain, genetics may make some people more likely to develop an addiction than others.

04 nature of addiction

This means that addiction can sometimes run in families. But, it’s important to remember that even if addiction is partly caused by genetics, this doesn’t mean that someone is doomed to become an addict. Many other factors contribute to addiction, including environment and trauma.

Recognizing Your Addiction

05 signs of addiction

If you’re not sure if you are struggling with an addiction, there are some signs to look for. 

  • Feeling like you can’t control your use
  • Prioritizing the substance or behavior over other things
  • Using despite negative consequences
  • Feel withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop

Finding Addiction Treatment

The most important thing to remember is that addiction is a disease. And like other diseases, it requires treatment by medical professionals. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it is essential to find a personalized treatment plan for you.

06 types of treatment

Addiction treatment often includes:

  • Detoxification
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medication
  • Aftercare planning

Addiction Relief at Northpoint Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, we can help. Your success in sobriety is our priority. Work directly with our compassionate team to create a recovery plan that works for you.

There is no better time to start on the path to sobriety than now. Get started today by calling us at 208.486.0130.

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