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Addiction & Treatment
Research

Is Addiction a Disease?

What about the disease of addiction? First, of course, there must be a definition for addiction According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine the short definition is:

"Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death "

For the BRI researchers it is difficult to know where to begin with such irresponsible, clearly fraudulent, totally unscientific assertions Here goes:

Let's break down ASAM's definition of addiction "Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry” Whoever wrote this got most everything right except for addiction being a "chronic disease " The process "of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry" is normal All decisions by every human work this way-it’s not a disease-it’s normal
ASAM goes on to write, "Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations " The implication is that these circuits in the brain of an addict are "dysfunctional," but are they? Brain circuits do lead to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations That is what brain circuits are supposed to do in everyone That’s not dysfunctional-it’s functional-it’s normal

Then, ASAM offers, "This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors " There is nothing pathological about pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors Everybody does it It’s not pathological-it’s logical-it’s normal The fact is that every human is solely motivated by their pursuit of personal happiness How to achieve that happiness is a personal choice Some people eat to achieve happiness Some people jog to achieve happiness Some people physically fight, e.g boxers, wrestlers, kick boxers, etc , to achieve happiness Some people jump out of airplanes or rock climb or do other high risk behaviors to achieve happiness Still others may hunt animals to achieve happiness And, yes, some choose to shoot up, snort substances and ingest substances to achieve happiness Others may disagree with many of these behaviors, but condemning what other people do in their personal pursuit of happiness does not make the behaviors a disease-it makes the behaviors the personal choice of those that choose the behaviors

Further and according to the ASAM "Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain" But how can that be true when nearly all independent research has repeatedly reported that most, so called, "addicts" stop using or moderate their use by simply maturing out of substance use behavior What’s more, if addiction really is characterized by an inability to consistently abstain, why would anyone ever submit to treatment, if, indeed, the "addicted" is truly unable to consistently abstain Such characterizations are ludicrous BRI studies have definitively demonstrated that when those who are alleged to have the "disease of addiction" are sufficiently self-motivated to stop or moderate their use of drugs, they do The proofs are conclusive: there is no such thing as the "disease of addiction "

What about ASAM’s other characteristics of this fraudulent disease of addiction? ASAM claims that people with this disease experience impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response In order to understand the absurdity of these claims, one must first understand whether or not the characteristics are, in fact, true Additionally, one must determine if the characteristics are unique to "addiction" or are common and experienced by people that are not "addicts " For example, ASAM claims that people with the disease of addiction "experience impairment in behavioral control " But is that true? The first observation to be made about "experience impairment in behavioral control" is that it is virtually impossible to determine whether one is experiencing impaired behavioral control or one is freely choosing a behavior that the observers consider impaired behavioral control It is also impossible to know whether the alleged impaired behavioral control is caused by an addiction or if the "addict" is merely acting out the cultural expectancies of using drugs

Consider the fact that there are cultures that ritualistically take hallucinogens and engage in all manner of bizarre behaviors, yet they manage to stay within the societal behavior limits of their culture These scientific studies present convincing evidence that regardless of the substance used or the amount of the substance used, users never experience impairment in behavioral control Moreover, all behavior is the product of cognitive thought So, whatever the behavior, it is the chosen behavior of the individual, even when it is the culturally expected behavior of persons that use the drug Then there are perfectly normal people who don’t use drugs, i.e mind altering substances, and seem to experience impaired behavioral control Like the "drug addict," these "normal people," give the appearance of experiencing all sorts of impaired behavioral control, e.g "go-no go" studies, uninhibited behaviors involving lying, stealing, cheating, law breaking, violence and numerous compulsive behaviors like running, working out, playing sports, driving fast, washing hands and so on Many would judge running 15 miles a day for no particular reason and to the exclusion of family time, work time or recreation time, compulsive or impaired behavioral control Ask the runner, the thief, the cheater or the addict and you will receive the same answer; they like doing it; it makes them happy There is no impairment; each is cognitively choosing their behaviors

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