Disease Theory of Addiction
Substance abuse and addiction is believed to involve permanent changes to the brain structure and function. According to the disease theory of addiction, it is possible for people to stop the addictive behavior, but they will never be cured of their addiction: they will be in remission, and will always be at risk of relapse. Some who believe this theory even suggest that that the disease can progress even when people are in recovery. This means that when the person relapses, they will be in a far worse situation than they were before they got clean.
Going by this theory, it is often said that once an addict, always an addict. What this means that once an individual has been addicted to a substance they will always be at risk of further addiction. Even if they manage to escape their substance abuse they may later relapse or find new type of drug to abuse. This pessimistic view of addiction is more like a death sentence but may contain some truth. However, it is conveniently an oversimplification of the situation. There are many people who at one time in their life fell into addiction but who were able to recovery and never had a similar problem again.
Addiction is for life: Once a pickle always a pickle?
Some will say that this simply is not true, and argue that it places a huge emotional and psychological burden on recovered addicts. Addiction is a spectrum disorder, like depression, and every person is different.
While there are plenty of cases where addicts struggle for years to overcome a drug addiction, many more cases reveal the opposite — short-term users who manage to put the past behind them and lead normal and productive lives. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 75% of alcoholics recover without treatment.
The disease theory of addiction is widely accepted, but there are also plenty of critics. Studies have shown that only 25% of physicians actually believe that it is a disease. The disease theory would support the notion that once an addict, always an addict.
Am I Still An “Addict?”
I was a poly-substance abuser meaning that I used many different drugs, although alcohol was not one of them. Alcohol simply is not a temptation for me nor do I have a desire to drink even socially. If I were to want to “do something” socially it would most likely be one of the “harder” drugs which in and of itself is not a social, normal thing. Seeing it that way, there is no need for me to partake in any chemical use.
For me, it helps me to remember where I ended up before I decided to get clean. I don’t really know for sure if once and addict always an addict rings true for me but, I do know that I am not willing to give up all the gifts that my newfound sobriety has brought me for one more high. It simply isn’t worth the risk.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135