Drug Addiction Is a Disease

Topics: Drug addiction, Addiction, Dopamine Pages: 6 (2166 words) Published: August 15, 2010
Drug Addiction is a Disease

Sabrina Hinds

Axia College of University of Phoenix

Drug Addiction is a Disease

Drug addiction is a disease because addictive personalities do not have control over their addictions. To prove this claim, the reader will learn about how addictive personalities become addicted; how dopamine contributes to the addict’s addiction; how society treats addictive personalities; and how drug-addiction is a mental illness just like any other mental illness. This paper will give the reader a better understanding of an addict’s life, and how we, as a society, can help them to become drug free. I chose this topic because on April 3, 2009 my 21-year old daughter Sarah passed away from a drug cocktail. She had injected morphine, cocaine and heroine. She went to sleep and never woke up again. Sarah had started using drugs at the age of 16. She had been in and out of treatment for drugs and for mental illness. Nothing we did helped her. Sarah grew up in a loving environment. At the age of five I married my current husband. He treated her as if she were his biological daughter. We were not overly strict nor did we allow her to do whatever she wanted. When she was 13, we allowed her to visit her biological father in Florida. That is when her life changed. We did not find out what went on in Florida until about six months before she passed away. This tragic accident in our lives has led me to learn as much about addiction as I can. I cannot change the past, but I have to learn to live with the loss. “Addictions are the same as any other form of mental illness. People who have addictions bear an illness, as is evident in the hundreds of medical, psychiatric, and sociological complications that can result.” (Lieber 1982; Jellinek & Jolliffee 1940). Addictions are a byproduct of genes, environment, and lack of maturity. “Indeed, addiction looks very much like a disease (admittedly definitions of “disease” remains somewhat fuzzy). Addiction has known risk factors (family history, male sex) and a typical course and outcome: often a chronic course punctuated by periods of abstinence followed by relapse.” (Hyman 2007) Addictions are quite often a rollercoaster ride for some addictive personalities. Some addictive personalities can go for long periods without indulging in their addiction but without the counseling and/or recovery programs that are essential to lifelong abstinence, they will certainly gravitate back to their addictive lifestyle. Addictive personalities, once they start taking drugs, alcohol, food or tobacco receive a high that triggers a good feeling. Quite often, especially when the use of the substance starts at a young age, the normal things or events that trigger these “rewards” are never properly developed. And the addiction becomes the only thing that will trigger the reward response. When the drug is stopped, the “good” feeling is gone and the addict crashes. To avoid this, the addict must continue their drug of choice to continue receiving the happy feeling. To treat an addict one needs to start by treating the problem that makes an addict become an addict. The addict needs comprehensive mental health therapy, not just passive care. Treatment for the mental illness must address the underlying problem that leads the addict to the addiction. Addictive personalities cannot be cured without receiving psychological help along with medications. Prescription drugs are not the cure all for addictive personalities, and should only be used in conjunction with recovery therapy. Without proper mental care addictive personalities will not recover. Every community in our country is affected by drug abuse, and the cost of drug and alcohol abuse is in the billions of dollars as depicted in the following graph from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) web page. [pic]

Another school of thought about addiction is that addiction is a consequence of economic, family,...

References: Feltenstein, MW & See, RE (2008) The neurocircuitry of addiction: an overview. British Journal of Pharmacology (2008)
Hyman, Steven E. (2007, August). The Neurobiology of Addictin: Implications for Voluntary Control of Behavior. The American Journal of Bioethics, 7(), .
Miller, Norman S., & Giannini, A. James. (1990, january - March). The disease Model of Addiction: A Biopsychiatrist 's View. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 22(1)(Nakken; Jaffee),
Nash, Madeline. (1997, May). Addicted: why do people get hooked> Mounting evidence points to a powerful brain chemical called dopamine. Time, 149(18), 68(7).
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) http://www.nida.nih.gov/about/welcome/aboutdrugabuse/magnitude/
Rodgers, Joann E. (1994, September/October). Addiction: A Whole New View. Psychology Today, (1994)
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