"Drug addiction is a choice, not a brain disease" Do you agree?Watch
- Thanks x
My gran had always been a heavy smoker, still is a heavy drinker - it's really a story for another day, but she's under the delusion that, because she's white, elderly and pseudo middle class, she can't possibly be an addict. She clearly is, however, because she can't go a single day without at least one bottle of wine (I've been party to her drinking two bottles in three hours - all whilst sat in her living room). Her doctor has told her she needs to cut down. Temporarily, she does, but it's never lasted much longer than a fortnight. She's someone that will always find something to celebrate or some other excuse. She is in chronic denial. She's an addict. It took me years to see it, because drinking excessively in my childhood home was normalised.
I'd call her an addict. Her doctor would call her an addict (actually, any medical professional would - I don't even understand how she has no problems with her liver; she's 80 and she's been a heavy drinker for at least 27 years). She's got a history of long-term recreational opiate use - which she won't admit to, and can't fathom why her doctor won't prescribe her opiate-based meds for her arthritis any longer. Sad thing is she is now addicted to prescription ibuprofen and pops paracetamol like they're going out of fashion. Seriously, how does she not have anything wrong with her liver?
I'd call her addiction both a choice and a disease or a disorder of some sort. She's been warned of the dangers yet she continues without a care in the world, almost in a "if I'm not noticeably ill I'm not an addict" way. She denies she has a problem and chooses to continue abusing substances. There must be something messed up going on with her brain, right? Yes, she's chosen to use these substances, but she's also in complete denial. There has to be some sort of psychological problem there. She'd make an interesting research project tbh. Shame we're not in contact any longer.
My uncle had a long term heroin problem. He knew he was addicted. He didn't want to be. He was in a functional marriage, had a daughter, yet it all seemed to go downhill at some point in the early 90s. He thought he'd be the type of person who could take smack as a one time deal, in my opinion not the sort of person who would choose to become addicted. He's tried many times to permanently withdraw from heroin and other opiates, but he's only ever had long-term success with replacing heroin with methadone. I'd certainly not call that a choice. I'm only a student, but there is definitely some sort of basis for addiction being a disease or a disorder of some type. His body cannot tolerate withdrawing completely.
He's said in the past that he'd sooner be free of all substances, if it were a choice, but it seems that he'll never be free of substances until he's dead. He chose to start using the drug he ultimately became addicted to, but I wouldn't say he chose to become addicted.
We can still ask whether becoming addicted to something is a choice though. The first time you try an addictive substance, you're not addicted to it, and usually (though not always) addiction takes repeated behaviour in order to be established. But, even so, I don't believe anyone chooses to become addicted to something - it's always an undesired byproduct of the thing a person actually wants (usually an altered state of mood). Therefore, if a person does become addicted, they're an unfortunate victim of their risky decision-making.
In a similar analogy, if a person chooses to drink-and-drive and subsequently kills themselves, they didn't actually choose to kill themselves (at any moment they would have been trying to the best of their ability not to crash), but they did mistakenly choose to impair their ability not to crash, which resulted in the unfortunate outcome. In the same way, I believe becoming addicted to a thing isn't a choice, but is an unintended consequence of (usually) repeated poor decision-making.
However, 'addiction' heavily implies that there is no free will. People take drugs for pleasure. Many use addiction as an easy fallback for when they can't/don't want to quit.
So you kinda did choose to be an addict, you knew the consequences.
No one does that. Everyone at least has that one addiction. I think its a choice but an illusion of need? Like you absolutely need to smoke this drug or else something bad will happen or you won't feel good anymore?
I don't think any addictions are like brain disease. Just like how some people will compare something that they think is extremely terrible to cancer.
At least with addictions or mental disorders, there's medications and extra help. With will power, an addiction can be broken. But cancer? I don't think people with cancer or brain disease can just do any surgery without the risk of dying in the process or their diseases come back. Maybe that's whole different topic.
He chose to start using the drug he ultimately became addicted to, but I wouldn't say he chose to become addicted.
I wish both your gran and your uncle the best, hopefully they'll conquer their demons one way or another.
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Less of a choice for some than others.
Just because some took a drug doesn't mean they deserve less compassion. No one takes a drug or engages in any behaviour and thinks, yeah I'd really like to feck my life up with addiction and barely live except to sate the insatiable need my brain has to do this behaviour. You might not agree with the original life choice but that's just your choice.