Addiction; a Neurological Disease
Addiction is a disease rather than a choice, because it is a neurological disorder that can only be remedied through medical intervention
There is a lot of controversy on whether addiction is a disease or a choice. However, there is a lot of evidence supporting the idea that addiction is a disease rather than a choice. According to the, ???National Institute of Justice??? journal, drug addiction is a chronic illness that is linked to changes in brain structure. Drugs activate a pathway in the brain known as the mesolimbic reward system. When drugs are used it prompts a dependency on that drug, whatever that drug might be. Due to these facts stated above, addiction is a disease rather than a choice, because it is a neurological disorder that can only be remedied through medical intervention (Fisanic Pg 49).
Many people view drug addicts as weak or bad people that are unable to live moral lives and are unable to control their erratic behavior. Addiction is actually a chronic, relapsing illness characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use (Fisanic Pg 51). With people on the street selling any drug one could think of left and right, it??™s not exactly helping these drug seekers but to progressively get worse. This just proves how drug addicts are victims to their own societal situation.
Addiction is classified as a disease. In illness, the model used to explain this is the disease model. The disease model says that a person has an organ that gets a physical or cellular defect, and as a result there are symptoms (Netherton). The same symptoms with that defect on that particular organ are seen. Drugs work in the midbrain. It takes place in what is called the cerebral cortex. In addiction, a defect occurs at a level of brain processing far earlier than the cortical processing (Netherton pg 23).
Addiction also has tremendous implications for the health of the public, drug use, directly or indirectly, is now a major vector for the transmission of many serious infectious diseases such as, HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, etc (Adams pg 103). With these connected to drug addiction this just gives more of a reason why addiction is a disease since the sharing of needles and such can carry different diseases. Drug users are very vulnerable to all these diseases because of the sharing of the drugs.
Drugs of abuse have common effects, either directly or indirectly. The Mesolimbic reward system is a pathway in the brain that when activated gives drug users the cravings to use drugs. This is not unique to any one drug ( Egandorf). All addictive substances affect this system. Drug use modifies the brains function in critical ways, but long term drug use causes persuasive changes in the brain that persist long after the individual stop using the drug. Significant effects of chronic drug use have been identified in molecular, cellular, structural, and functional effects (Egandorf).
Certain drugs affect the brain by increasing the activity of at least three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine (Egandorf). Drugs cause these neurotransmitters to be released from their storage sites in neurons, resulting in increased neurotransmitter activity. Drugs cause greater serotonin release and somewhat lesser dopamine release. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors. The excess release of serotonin by these drugs likely causes the mood elevating effects experienced by drug users (Fisanic pg 96). However, by releasing large amounts of serotonin, drugs cause the brain to become significantly depleted of this important neurotransmitter, contributing to the negative behavioral aftereffects that users often experience for several days after taking certain drugs (Adams).
Drug addiction is a major problem in today??™s society. There are currently over 4 million drug addicts in the United States today. Most of these addicts need help to stop. This proves the point that drug addiction can only be cured through medical intervention. It is a brain disorder that falls under the aspects of the disease model. It is a choice to use drugs in the first place, but once that drug is used the addictive properties of the drug goes through the brain and causes chemical dependency and from that point on after, it is a disease.