Is Addiction a Choice?

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Is Addiction a Choice?

03 February, 2020Articles, News

Millions of people struggle with substance addictions each year. SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that over 22 million Americans aged 12 and over had a substance dependence or abuse condition in the previous year. Because many people think that addiction is a choice that a person makes and can therefore be controlled by the person, there is a stigma placed on people who struggle with addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) says that addiction is hardwired into our brains. Brains are wired to ensure that we remember and repeat things associated with pleasure and rewards. But what most people don’t know : abusing drugs and/or alcohol can literally rewire the brain. Overstimulating our brain with drugs and/or alcohol produces euphoric effects which strongly reinforces the behavior of drug/alcohol use- thus, teaching the user to repeat it. Over time, the brain begins to produce less and less dopamine than it once did causing a person to use more and more to feel “normal” again.

Our ability to even feel pleasure dramatically decreases. This is also called tolerance or, the ability or willingness to tolerate something. In short, we use because it feels good and we keep using because we realize it doesn’t feel as good as it used to and we want to feel that again.

21.5 million Americans struggled with addiction in 2014. 80% of those same people also struggled with an issue with alcohol. 8 million of those, struggled with what is called a co-occurring disorder, or “double trouble.” People still battle with the question though- “is addiction a choice?”

Since many people assume that addiction is simply related to a person’s lack of will-power and self-control – many people hesitate to seek professional help because they believe that they can fix the issue on their own.

How to Get Help with an Addiction

Regardless of whether addiction is defined as a disease or merely a compulsion, the reality is that addiction is a complex and challenging health issue that requires careful treatment. In order to ensure a successful recovery, a person with an addiction should receive treatment at a professional substance addiction rehabilitation centre. Here they will identify, through therapy and educational classes, the various reasons behind their addiction. They will also learn specific ways that they can manage the addiction in the future.


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