Many people ask the question, “Is addiction a disease?” Medical research confirms that the answer is, “Yes.” However, many people lack education about what makes it a disease. Learn why addiction falls into that category.
How the Brain Works and the Disease Concept
The human brain has many different sections, and each one has important responsibilities. The two primary parts of the brain related to addiction are the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala is responsible for some of our most primitive survival instincts and why individuals repeat pleasurable acts. For instance, the amygdala is vital because it tells us to eat when we’re hungry.
When asking, “Is addiction a disease?”, medical experts define a disease as a disorder that produces specific signs or symptoms while affecting at least one organ. When discussing addiction, you can look at the brain as the affected organ, and there are plenty of accompanying symptoms. One of the primary symptoms is continuing an action regardless of ongoing negative consequences. Brain scans show that someone with an addiction has a malfunctioning prefrontal cortex.
The responsibilities of the prefrontal cortex include:
- Impulse control
- Emotional regulation
- Fear modulation
Why the Answer to “Is Addiction a Disease?” Matters
Addiction affects everyone involved. People who suffer from an addiction may feel guilty about the things they do to support their addiction, while others may believe that they can control their substance abuse without help. That’s why addiction treatment programs are so crucial.
If someone you love is struggling with an addiction, educating yourself about the disease is vital. It’s baffling for people when their loved one continues drinking or using drugs despite the consequences. Some people may get angry, upset, depressed or resentful. When you acknowledge that addiction is a chronic illness, you begin to realize that you’re dealing with a sick person.
Treating an Addiction
The first step in solving any problem is admitting that there is a problem. Now that medical science knows that this is a legitimate disease, research and advancement helps people recover. Just like other diseases, proven treatment methods can help the process. The great news is that people only need honesty, open-mindedness and willingness to begin their journey.