By Bretton Love
Most people still believe that addiction formation is exclusively a choice of every person. “You can get rid of any addiction if you just want to.” It distinguishes drug or alcohol addiction in most diseases. It is unlikely that there are a lot of people who are sincerely convinced that peptic ulcer appears only with those who want it. And it seems to be clear that a person suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder should not be advised to “just calm down.”
However, when it comes to addiction, these rules do not work, which leaves a bad impression not only on the public image of addicted people (they are considered weak and perverse) but also on approaches to treating addiction.
This attitude begins to change, especially in the light of sociological and medical studies: they indicate that addiction is not always the result of a lack of will. There are both social factors and a predisposition to addiction that push a person to its formation. However, it does not give us an undeniable right to say that addicts are not to blame for their addiction – just as diabetics are not guilty of their diabetes. Is it true that a predisposed person is doomed to get addicted sooner or later? And what is the true reason for becoming addicted?
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Those are the questions you need to answer before you find an addiction help facility nearby for yourself or your loved ones. Meanwhile, almost every rehab provides patients and their relatives with consultation on this topic before the rehabilitation. It is always better to realize the nature of addiction, either looking for information on the Internet or consulting with a doctor. In this article, we will try to answer the main question: what is addiction?
Addiction as a genetic glitch
Answering the question of whether a person can be programmed to some kind of addiction from birth, the National Center for Biotechnological Information concluded that genetics is at least half responsible for predisposing to any addiction.
Another study shows similar numbers – 40-60%. However, these findings only report potential vulnerabilities. They do not deny or confirm that addiction is what people incur upon themselves. Predisposition does not mean either a tendency to a specific addiction or the disease itself.
Addiction as a social impact
There are many historical examples of how social depression, unemployment, and poverty proved to be an ideal medium for the distribution of hard drugs. Whether it is the crack epidemic in the United States of the 80s, the heroin plague in the teething industrial cities of Thatcher Britain, or the sharp increase in opioid use in Russia since the beginning of the 90s. One more recent case is the global economic crisis of 2008, which led to progressive unemployment in European countries, along with an increase in cannabinoids and new substances used among people aged 15 to 24 years.
However, sociological calculations unambiguously speak only of the relationship between dependence and social depression. Poverty contributes to the addicts increase – but addiction, in turn, leads to impoverishment.
Determining what the cause and consequence were, it is necessary to consider each person’s case individually and in detail – sociologists often do not have resources for this. The second nuance, which is also worth considering, is that social disorder can encourage the development of addiction and accelerate self-destruction, but not its cause. It does not certainly mean that a person will become an addict, only because they were born and raised in a dysfunctional environment.
Addiction as a defensive reaction
Generally, most people with different addictions usually have some kind of childhood trauma. Before they find a rehab, addiction is an attempt of self-healing for them. This is not necessarily a childhood trauma – it can be the disorder associated with the organization of modern society, a social trauma, and the economy, the inability to find a job, to realize oneself, to find a relationship that fits. Often addiction is a response to external circumstances.
Gabor Maté is a Canadian addictologist who has worked with the most severe forms of drug addiction for many years. In discussing the nature of the phenomenon, he does not see a fundamental difference between different addictions. He says that drugs themselves do not lead to addiction – this is a myth. Most people who try drugs do not become addicted. The question is why some people are vulnerable to addiction. Food is not addictive, but some people become psychologically addicted to it. It is the same with shopping and television.
Addiction as a stigma
It is crucial to get rid of common misconceptions regarding addiction itself, without removing personal (including criminal) liability from addicted people and Without justifying the harm that addictive behavior causes. This problem can be partly solved because of the psychological approach to addiction.
Addicted people are usually treated like weak-willed puppets because they do not know how to find a rehab center and do not want to. This stereotype exists, although in reality, an addict can be a very collected and purposeful person. “People think that junkies and alcoholics are neglected people who lack motivation. It is not so – they are incredibly organized. They can slip away in order to drink shots of whiskey, and you will not even notice their absence. It’s a kind of micromanagement,” says Simon Pegg, who struggled with alcohol addiction for many years. His example refutes another misconception: a dependent person can perfectly read their own addictive behavior and understand its destructive effects.
Understanding addiction as a serious illness, the treatment of which can last for years, will bring us closer to understanding those who, for whatever reason, turned out to be its hostage. Maybe one day, we will be able to know why Philip Seymour Hoffman, who remained a teetotaler for twenty-three years, died from an overdose of hard drugs. Or we will understand the recent breakdown of Demi Lovato, who, according to her song “Sober” released shortly before that, was well aware of a relapse danger. The marginalization of the disease certainly does not contribute to its cure.
If you need help or more information, you can call a free hotline or nearest rehab center – they are always happy to support an addicted person and give advice.