It's a disease!
When an individual has diabetes, a chronic health (pancreas) disease, he is told to make lifestyle changes, begin insulin use, and tested for other health issues. These lifestyle changes include weight loss, diet change, less stress, more exercise, etc. When an individual has hypertension, which is also a chronic health (heart) disease, he is told to make lifestyle changes, begin anti-hypertensive drugs, and be tested for other health issues. The lifestyle changes for hypertension is the same for diabetes.
Now when this diabetic or hypertensive doesn't follow doctors' orders and rather than lose weight gains more weight due to hopelessness and probably depression, they are not shamed, insulted, or demoralized. Instead, we accept them as they are and continue to encourage them to use their medication and stay with them regardless. We don't snap at their heart (hypertensives) to begin functioning well or their pancreas (diabetic) to begin to process sugar well. Neither do we snap at the individuals to get their heart or pancreas to perform. After all, it is their body, and they are in control.
Yet when individuals have addiction, chronic health (brain) disease, they are not told to make lifestyle changes, begin anti-addiction medication, and tested for other psychological issues. Their lifestyle changes, which should include weight loss, diet change, less stress, more exercise, less late-night, fewer parties and social gatherings, more family time, etc. are not encouraged. When these addicts don't follow doctor's orders and rather continue to drink or use more substances rather than reduce due to a variety of reasons (to be elaborated in another article), they are shamed, insulted, demoralized and castigated. We do not accept them, love them, or encourage them to use their medications, seek help, and stay with them. We instead snap and shout at them (their brain) to begin to function well. We snap at them (brain) to get their acts together; after all, it is their body, and they should be in control.
Just as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma are chronic diseases, addiction is a chronic life long disease. It is a disease of the brain, and research has shown over and over again that just as hypertension affects the functioning of the heart and diabetes affects the operation of the kidneys, addiction affects the functioning of the brain. A brain bath in alcohol, for example, is hijacked from rational reasoning and judgment.
The brain of an addict isn't normal; rather, there are significant physical changes that take place in the brain for addiction to take root. Addiction is not a personality problem or a moral issue. Rather, addiction is a life-long disease that can not be cured but can be managed and controlled. It must be treated like all other chronic health conditions that change the physiological workings of the body.
Although addiction is a life-threatening illness, it can be managed and controlled excellently well for life with proper psychotherapy, medication, empathy, and love.
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