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Is Addiction a Disease, and Can It Be Treated?

By: Shannon Persad November 22, 2019 no comments

Is Addiction a Disease, and Can It Be Treated?

For a while, addiction has was seen as a “behavioral” problem. Others have stated it’s a disease.

Now, the language in the past few years has become more evident, with addiction being categorized as a disease.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.

Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also has this to say about addiction being a disease:

“Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will.”

Can Addiction Be Treated?

Entities such as ASAM and NIDA have stated addiction as a disease due to the neurological changes in the brain that occurs.

NIDA states that drugs affect the “reward circuit”, resulting in euphoria and flooding it with dopamine. A proper reward system urges a person to repeat behaviors needed to flourish, such as spending time with loved ones or eating. An increase in dopamine in the reward circuit results in reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, leading to a repeatable cycle that is hard to break.

As a person continues, the brain adapts, causing changes in the brain. In other words, the brain now has tolerance for the cycle it has been going through.

Both ASAM and NIDA state that addiction is “treatable”, just like any other chronic disease. Relapsing doesn’t mean the treatment didn’t work, as it can be a part of a person’s process to their road to recovery.


Addiction is real, but it is not the end. It is possible to break the cycle of addiction and enjoy life being sober.

The first step is accepting you have a problem. From there, professionals will be more than happy to help you on your journey to recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, seek professional help now.

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