How many times have you heard someone say addiction is a disease? Medical professionals affirm the use of the word “disease” when describing addiction.
But when you look at the way treatment works in the addiction community, is substance abuse really being treated in the same way as other chronic diseases?
In many ways, addiction treatment has evolved since the days of the “moral” model of addiction treatment that suggested addiction was a moral failing on the part of the addict. Addiction is a disease but treatment facilities have, for the most part, proudly and intentionally distanced themselves from this model of treatment.
Yet in many programs, whispers of the moral model of addiction treatment remain. In spite of the fact that people say addiction is a chronic disease, doctors are often hesitant to suggest the indefinite use of medications. Definitions for addiction are often based on behaviors exhibited by addicts. The addict is defined as a person who does X, Y, and Z.
Some 12-step communities discourage the use of drugs like methadone and buprenorphine, insisting that abusers cannot be “clean” if they are still taking any type of drugs.
Addiction is a Disease and Evidence-Based Treatment Brings New Hope to Addicts
This “no medications” directly contradicts the practice of evidence-based treatment. After all, few would deal with high blood pressure in this way! Definitions of addiction that first describe the behaviors of addiction come dangerously close to falling into the “moral” model because they put the center of the disease on an addict’s behavior.
The addiction community has a history of labeling addiction a disease while treating addiction like a behavioral issue. Fortunately, not everyone who works in the addiction community falls into that category.
In recent years, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a professional society for addiction medicine professionals, published their definition of addiction. Some credit this new definition with changing the way people think about addiction.
The ASAM definition: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
According to the ASAM, addiction is the disease and substance abuse is a symptom of that disease. The most important takeaway from this definition is that the disease of addiction has a real biological basis and can be treated.
When viewed from this perspective, treating the disease first will help to alleviate the symptoms. A patient shouldn’t feel guilty if the symptoms of the disease persist. It just means your disease treatment failed.
Get Leading-Edge Addiction Treatment
If you’re looking for addiction treatment that uses evidence-based techniques, Serenity House Detox is the right choice. We know addiction is a disease and treat that way. You can live a healthy, productive life free of addiction. To learn more about drug detox with Serenity House Detox call 866-294-5306.