Spectrum Health Systems

Is Addiction a Choice?

Published On: February 28th, 2017Categories: Addiction

It may be valid to say that we always have a choice. We have a choice in what time we wake up in the morning, what we have for breakfast, or whether to take the bus or train to work. Life is full of choices. But when it comes to drugs and substance use, sometimes this freedom of choice escapes us. The drugs take over and impair judgement and rational thought.

Sometimes, the first time a drug was taken, the user didn’t have a choice – or realize they had a choice to make. They may have been prescribed an opiate for pain management after a surgery, which then developed into an addiction. This type of drug use, although originally prescribed, can easily lead to abuse of the substance, and new substances, long after the pain has worn away.

Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease – characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the awareness of harmful consequences. Just like any other disease that alters the functioning of a specific organ or part of the body, addiction is a disease because the consumption of drugs changes the brain structure. This is even more prominent in the younger years, when the brain is still developing. The consumption of drugs impairs the functioning of the brain, so you don’t think in the same way, and often don’t make the right decisions.

This is why it is important to understand that addiction is in fact a disease, and with this better understanding, we can then work towards helping people struggling with addiction begin the process of recovery to achieve sobriety. We must erase the stigma around addiction, where many believe that people struggling with addiction always have the choice to start and stop, because usually, that choice does not exist for them anymore. We need people to be more open on the subject of drug abuse and addiction, so that we can learn how to deal with the issues at hand. If more people talk about it, there’s more support, and there are more resources that can be used to help those affected recover.

Spectrum provides hope for people, as they work with clients to help them achieve sobriety, as well as the families of those in recovery, to help them better understand and cope with their loved ones’ recovery process. If you or somebody you love need helps for an addiction, call us at (844) 233-6372.

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