Addiction: A Matter of Choice?

Addiction: A Matter of Choice?

There are millions of individuals every year who suffer from addiction problems. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which can be found at drugabuse.org, there were 23.5 million individuals in the United States who needed treatment help for an addiction problem.

Is Addiction a Matter of Choice?

It is not uncommon for individuals to become addicted to drugs and alcohol, and it can happen to people of every race or social class. There are many individuals who believe that addiction is a matter of free choice, and those who are addicted to drugs are responsible for making the choice to continue to abuse the drug he or she is addicted to, which is untrue according to many scientists.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov) stated that although experimenting with drugs and alcohol for the first time may be a choice, after the first time an individual uses drugs he or she will experience changes in the brain that causes the circuits in the prefrontal cortex to become weak. Addiction is recognized as a disease of the brain by many in the scientific community. Individuals with an addiction problem are not able to control themselves, which is caused by the disruption of neuronal circuits that prohibit them from being able to make “free choice.”

On the opposing point of view, there are individuals who feel that addiction is a matter of choice. Cleanslate.org reported that there is not prevalent evidence that asserts addiction is a physiological malfunction. Cleanslate.org argued a quote from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Addiction:

• “Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works.” (National Institute on drug Abuse and Addiction: drugabuse.gov)

Cleanslate.org reported three arguments that could disprove this theory, which are:

• The brain changes in the brain scans from the National Institute on Drug Abuse are not abnormal.
• There is not valid and scientific evidence that warrants addicts are compulsive.
• Individuals’ behaviors change even though their brain has changed from substance abuse.

There is mixed opinion if addiction is a matter of choice or a disease. However, individuals on both sides of the argument can agree that addiction is a serious problem that can have a negative influence on a person and his or her family, which is why it is vital for an individual with an addiction problem to seek professional help.

Which Drugs are Most Commonly Addictive?

There are many drugs that are highly addictive. According to DrugWarFacts.org, the 10 most highly addictive drugs abused are:

• Heroin
• Cocaine
• Barbiturates
• Street Methadone
• Alcohol
• Ketamine
• Benzodiazepines
• Amphetamine
• Tobacco
• Buprenorphine

Although cannabis is not considered addictive to many individuals, DrugWarFacts.org reported cannabis was the eleventh most addictive drug. DrugWarFacts.org went on to explain that an estimated 4.3% of individuals in the United States have had an addiction problem with marijuana. Furthermore, there are more than double the amount of individuals who use marijuana than other illicit drugs, so addiction to marijuana is twice as prevalent as any other illicit drug, according to DrugWarFacts.org.

What are the Risk Factors for Addiction?

Not all individuals at risk for addiction will become addicted. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported adolescents are at a high risk for developing an addiction. Social and academic problems can contribute to young individuals developing an addiction problem with drugs and alcohol. Individuals with family or work problems are also at risk for addiction because they turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping device. Mayoclinic.org explained men are at a higher risk than women for developing addiction problems. Mayoclinic.org also reported that individuals with a mental health disorder are susceptible to addiction. Furthermore, those who are taking pain pills with prescriptions because of pain are also at a high risk for becoming addicted to the pain pills they are taking.

What Measures can be Taken to Help Those Who Suffer From an Addiction Problem?

There are many treatment options available to help those who suffer from addiction overcome their problem and lead a life of sobriety. It is crucial for those suffering from an addiction to seek help, which will increase their chances for long-term recovery.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be beneficial for treating addiction. The National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, nacbt.org, described cognitive behavioral therapy as a type of psychotherapy, which stresses the role of thinking and how it impacts what an individual feels and what he or she does.

Inpatient treatment programs can also help those with an addiction problem. This form of therapy gives a patient 24 hour support and help treating an addiction problem. There are also outpatient therapy programs that can help those with an addiction problem. Outpatient therapy enables a patient to continue their work or school schedule while being effectively treated for addiction.

When an individual seeks help, they are taking the first and most important step to recovery. Individuals who attempt to kick their habit on their own are often unsuccessful. Every person is different and choosing therapy should be focused on the individual, but with the right amount of help and support, an individual can overcome his or her addiction.

Category: Addiction

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