You’ve probably heard people say that addiction is a disease. It’s possible that when you first heard that, you laughed it off in disbelief. After all, how could something that someone chose to do that ended up hurting them be a disease? There have been many studies done on addiction in the past and they all support the idea that addiction truly is a disease. Let’s talk a little bit in more detail about their findings and what that means for you as you seek more information about addiction and treatment for recovery.
Genetics Play a Role
Studies have been done that prove that genetics do indeed play a major role in whether or not a person becomes addicted to a substance later on in life. One of those studies concluded that those who are children of addicts are eight times more likely to become addicts themselves. Studies have also been done on both fraternal and non-fraternal twins discovered that while one twin might be addicted to alcohol or another drug, that didn’t necessarily mean that the other twin struggled with an addiction. Once those studies were completed, researchers concluded that while genetics did play a role, coping skills probably played an equal role.
The Way Diseases Work
There are many conditions that are widely accepted as diseases. Heart disease is one of them and so are diseases like cancer and diabetes. These afflictions are somewhat caused because a person had a predisposition to them due to their genetics. When a person has a heart attack, one of the things a doctor always asks (and it might even be the first thing he asks) is if there is a history of heart problems within the family. That information is vital because it gives the medical team valuable knowledge about what to expect. Even so, genetics are not the only factor in these or in any other disease. Lifestyle plays a significant role too. For example, a woman might have a history of lung cancer in her family, but if she chooses to never take up smoking, she might not ever get cancer. The disease of addiction works much the same way.
Just like all diseases, addictions do not play favorites. You’re not more likely to become addict if you recently lost your job or if you are constantly dealing with depression. If that were the case, there would be a lack of successful and highly motivated people who were addicts. As you probably know, sometimes people who are in powerful positions struggle with addictions to drugs and/or alcohol. Many of them are just like you. That fact alone proves that addition is a disease and it should be treated like a disease.
There is Hope!
The good news is that while addiction is a disease, the fact that genetics are not a deciding factor should give you hope. Whether you are an addict now or you’ve come across this article because you know there have been many people in your family who have been addicts, you don’t have to succumb to addiction yourself.
If you know you have a genetic history of addiction but you’re not addicted to a substance, that knowledge is very powerful for you. You have the coping skills to refrain from using alcohol or drugs and allowing that addiction to develop. However, if you have become addicted to a substance, you have many options available to you for treatment.
Don’t be surprised if you hear people say things to you like, “You’re just weak. If you were stronger, you’d be able to overcome this” or “You can control your addiction if you really put your mind to it. It doesn’t have to overpower you all the time.” Please don’t think of yourself as weak. Those words might sound like encouragement to the person who is speaking them, but they’re not. That person probably doesn’t understand the way addiction works at all. You need help from someone who does.
Addiction treatment takes on many forms. It can be in the form of inpatient rehab or outpatient therapy. Many people benefit from attending support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous as a way to learn more about their addictions and how they affect other people. The option you choose is completely up to you, and you would probably benefit from any of them.
The most important thing you can do is realize that addiction is a disease and it’s one that requires treatment. We can help you get the treatment you need. Please contact us.