Over the years, people have debated about whether addiction is a disease or not. Sadly, this conversation often deters people from finding help. The problem is that both family members and the person suffering ask, “Is addiction a disease?” A disease is a powerful thing, and it implies that a person needs help to overcome the illness. The problem is many people think they can overcome addiction without help, simply because they don’t understand how this disease works.
Is Addiction a Disease?
According to the Surgeon General of the United States of America, The National Institution on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for mental disorders, addiction is a legitimate disease. A disease is an illness that affects and organ, and in the case of addiction, this organ is the brain.
The part of the brain that’s not functioning properly is responsible for the following:
- Impulse control
- Logical decision making
- Ability to connect with others
- Fear reactions
This part of the brain is called the prefrontal cortex. In addition to the jobs listed above, it also helps to regulate the flow of dopamine. Dopamine floods the brain when a person drinks or uses drugs, which gives him or her pleasure. Someone who suffers from an addiction has a much different experience when drinking or using drugs. He or she has an excess amount of dopamine that flows through this system.
What Brain Scans Show Us
When it comes to addiction, only about 10% of the population has a problem. Most people are able to have a few drinks with friends or after work, but others can’t. Additionally, many people can smoke marijuana recreationally or try cocaine, while others quickly develop a dependency. Medical professionals have recently released new brain scans that show us exactly what happens to the brain of a person with an addiction.
According to the brain scans conducted by NIDA, the effects of drugs and alcohol are much different on individuals with addictions than those without. A person without an addiction has a brain that shows pleasure come and go normally. Someone with an addiction has an excess flow of dopamine without the prefrontal cortex working properly. On that note, the next logical question would be, “is addiction a disease with treatment options?” The answer to that one is a resounding “yes.”
Overcoming the Physical Dependence
The first step in overcoming this disease is going through a detox process. Detoxification is crucial because people’s bodies become highly dependent on drugs or alcohol. Anyone who doesn’t go through a medically managed detox will experience symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can be difficult to handle alone. A detox facility that’s familiar with addiction makes dealing with this period much easier.
Silver Pines Treatment Center is here to help you find a way to recover from your addiction. Our addiction treatment program treats both women and men living with drug and alcohol addiction. We have a non-medical detoxification program to help you learn how to live without addictive substances. You can find out more about our program in Hazleton, PA, by calling us today at 267.719.8689.