Is Addiction a Disease? Understanding a New Way of Thinking

Is Addiction a Disease? A New Way of Thinking.

It has long since been accepted that addiction is a disease. Depending on the make-up of someone’s genetics, they are more or less likely to develop some type of addiction within their lifetime. And while this way of thinking may very well be true, it’s important to explore some of the new waves of thinking about addiction and what it means for those suffering from it.

What is an Addiction?

In it’s most basic form, addiction is a repeated behavior that has destructive consequences for an individual. When it comes to understanding addiction as a disease, it is often compared to diabetes, heart disease or cancer. There is a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors at play. Addiction can happen because of a genetic predisposition, a dependency that happens over time, or from co-occurring disorders.

Common symptoms of addiction include:

  • Continued use of drugs or alcohol, despite growing health concerns
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with problems and stress
  • Increased risk taking or engaging in unusual and unhealthy behaviors
  • Growing financial and legal issues due to drinking or drug use
  • Social isolation and secrecy
  • Mood and appetite changes
  • Noticeable changes in appearance

Symptoms can vary from person to person, just as the cause of addiction can vary.

Addiction as a Spectrum

When it comes to exploring addiction and thinking about it in terms of your loved one, you may be more likely to challenge the traditional explanation of addiction as a disease. As with anything, there are varying degrees of severity, and it is important to meet your loved one where they are in their journey.

In a new book by Paul Thomas, MD, he argues that addiction might be more of a sliding scale that includes various factors. There are 11 total factors that specialists can use to determine someone’s place on the addition spectrum. Some of these factors include:

  • The severity fo the addiction
  • Previous life events
  • Genetic predispositions
  • How much a person abuses a substance
  • How long a person has been abusing a substance

Why is this important? Because in some instances, people are better able to hide a substance abuse problem, making it difficult to diagnose. But if you understand that there is a sliding scale of severity, you might be able to notice symptoms earlier and get treatment before things escalate.

The goal of this new thought process is to approach drug and alcohol rehabilitation differently. By thinking of addiction as a spectrum rather than just simply a disease, you can get a better understanding of how addiction happens and help your loved one seek treatment before ever hitting rock bottom.

Take a Different Approach at Spirit Mountain Recovery Center

Spirit Mountain Recovery is located in the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah. We offer our clients non-traditional and remarkable treatment programs for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It is our goal to help the men at our rehab facility get the adequate rest, nutrition and exercise needed to reorient their life goals and find purpose outside of addiction. Contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor and to learn more about the options available to your loved one.