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Is Addiction Really a Disease?

a woman consoles a man holding his head

You may haven’t taken it seriously the first time you heard it. After all, how can a choice someone makes, like abusing drugs or alcohol, be a disease? But many recent studies on addiction information consistently point to the same conclusion—addiction is, at the very least, closely related to a disease.

If you currently struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s not too late to start the path toward a sober life. Northpoint Recovery offers rehab services to help you begin the rest of your life on the right foot.

What Is a Disease?

The National Institute of Health defines disease as “an impairment of the normal state of the body or mind that interrupts or modifies the performance of vital functions.” In other words, a disease is something that takes away your ability to function normally.

Diseases can range from the common cold, which is relatively mild and goes away on its own, to terminal illnesses like cancer. Some diseases are caused by pathogens, like bacteria or viruses, while others result from genetic disorders.

Some common genetic disorders are:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Down syndrome
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Tay Sachs disease

Abnormalities in a person’s DNA directly cause genetic disorders. These abnormalities can easily transfer from generation to generation, so some families have a long history of certain diseases.

How do Genetics Influence Addiction?

It’s still unclear how genetics influence addiction, but researchers believe there is a strong link. In fact, addiction seems to run in families more often than not. This link could be because people with addictive personalities are more likely to pass on their genes to their children.
Or it could be that kids who grow up in homes where addiction is present are more likely to develop an addiction themselves. No matter the reason, it’s clear that genetics do play a role in addiction.

The strong tie between genetics and addiction is the primary factor leading many researchers to begin treating addiction as a disease.

How Is Addiction Classified as a Disease?

There are a few ways that addiction classifies as a disease. The first way is by its symptoms. When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, your body and mind are affected.

You may feel like you can’t function without the substance, and you may start to experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they can even be life-threatening.

Some symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction include:

  • Cravings for the substance
  • Feeling like you need the substance to function
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you stop using
  • No control over how much or how often you use the substance

Another way that addiction can classify as a disease is by its effects. Addiction often leads to serious consequences, like job loss, financial problems, and relationship issues. It can also lead to health problems, like liver damage or overdose.

In some cases, addiction can even be deadly, so it’s so important for people who are struggling with addiction to get help as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line About Addiction

The debate continues as to whether addiction is a disease or not. But, the bottom line is that addiction is detrimental to your health and your social well-being. Additionally, trying to break the cycle on your own can be dangerous, often causing severe physical and mental anguish.

Addiction Treatment with Northpoint Recovery

At Northpoint Recovery, we know that addiction is a vicious cycle. The close-knit community found in our high-class facility focuses on giving you the tools you need to succeed in sobriety. Contact us at 888.296.8976 today to get started.