#Addiction – the disease or lifestyle choice debate

FacebookI saw a Facebook post recently, it appeared to lambaste those who look down on ‘addicts’ and I would mostly agree with that sentiment however; it also suggests that it is wrong to criticise people for making poor ‘lifestyle’ choices when they have a ‘disease’ not of their choosing.

Again I can partially agree, but only with that suggestion that relates to one individual sitting in judgement over another. That is wrong, who are we to judge? Before adopting a mostly media driven and uninformed puritanical stance remember… glass houses and stones etc.

True understanding about any contentious issue, such as the ‘disease model’ of addiction theory, let alone acceptance of either end of the polar debate, requires individuals to have studied and fully understood all the variables involved, before arriving at a conclusion.

There are far too many people¬†espousing their usually uninformed opinion. With little or no real understand of all the information that is available to them. Or worse, their preferred definition (aka ‘reason’) for addiction is wrapped up in the furtherance of their own personal or political agendas. In my opinion, a powerful underlying driver for constant debate about the ‘disease model’ of addiction has financial reasoning.

There is a great deal of money to be made from ‘curing’ people from a ‘disease’, particularly in country’s like America where healthcare systems are commercially delivered. And yes, “the American Medical Association declared alcoholism as a treatable illness in 1956″ but why wouldn’t they? Ca-ching! Shortly after in 1965, the American Psychiatric Association shouted ‘”disease” and the cash registers went into overdrive.

Cynical perhaps but… the ‘disease’ implication also implies a ‘cure’ can be delivered… one that earns money. Whilst also absolving the ‘diseased victim’ of any responsibility for their condition and importantly, some ownership of their own recovery. That’s got to be a classic win – win for both sides of the business arrangement don’t you think?

The social media post (above) highlights the fact that; “as with many concepts and theoretical models in the addiction field, the disease concept was originally applied to alcoholism” but has also become a generalised therapeutic descriptive for addiction to other drugs also. So, although not many would suggest addiction isn’t a serious public health concern, in many societies not least our own but, does the “disease of addiction” actually exist and if it does, does that really matter?

Addiction may be classified as a “primary disease” in America, or by the World Health Organisation, but irrespective of all the theoretical science and therapeutic interventions hanging off the back of that definition, perpetuating this constant mostly superficial debate is also damaging. In many ways it impacts upon the process of recovery, at least for those struggling to understand their own addictive behaviours and hopefully come out the other side.

It also provides a platform for mischievous journalists, cogs in a machine of public opinion manipulation. All the time prodding the public with manipulated headlines, to induce uninformed emotive interpretation and response. Opinions that subsequently emanate in the main from people who are least impacted by the problems of addictions.

Irrespective of what I believe, and you may have worked it out, this ‘contentious’ issue remains open to heated debate but as far as I’m concerned, the ‘evidence’ is still mostly inconclusive… at least for those initial stages of addiction but hey, I’m no scientist.

As ever, you are entitled to believe what you want to believe and formulate your own opinion.

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