Why Is Addiction Not a Disease?

It’s important for addiction discussions to note the difference between a disorder and a disease. Addiction is a disorder, not a disease, because it is a host of symptoms that are different for everyone. For instance, a disease has to be measurable and testable. You can take someone’s temperature and know that they have a fever, but you cannot “test” for addiction as it is a set of behaviors that trigger a set of symptoms. These behaviors may not always be conscious because of the changes in the brain due to substance use. But they were voluntary at least in the beginning. The level of personal responsibility is at stake in labelling addiction whether it’s a disorder or a disease.

Some addicts can conquer their addiction and others cannot. Some treatment techniques work for some addicts but they don’t work for others. These are not the hallmarks of a disease, which would involve a more uniform pathology and a treatment plan that would work universally. There’s no cure for addiction that’s why it is not classified as disease. They just learn a new set of behaviors to short-circuit the things that trigger their desire for drugs or alcohol. They have to abstain from these substances for the rest of their lives after recovery.

Addiction as a Disorder

Addiction is not a disease

In the discussion of addiction as a disorder, you should consider the stigma attached of seeking help. When people think of diseases, they think of illnesses that are contagious and they think of the diseased person as having some kind of moral failings that has brought the illness upon them. Addicts need help understanding that we live in a culture that encourages over consumption. Some people can handle that kind of message and others can’t. This does not make an addict a bad person.

It just means that they need better examples of people who have higher priorities and healthier goals. Our relationship to drugs and alcohol is really a disorder that exists at the cultural level rather than at the individual one, even though some people are capable of moderation. These differences among personalities accounts for another reason why addiction is a disorder. If it were a disease, then anyone exposed to the same cultural message of over consumption would also become an addict. However, only certain people predisposed to this kind of behavior find themselves in trouble.

Whether we call addiction a disorder or a disease changes nothing about how it is treated. Diseases are often things that people try to solve by themselves at home. If someone has a cold, he/she might just get some extra sleep and eat a bowl of chicken soup. However, by understanding addiction as a disorder, we are admitting that addicts need a larger support structure in order to change their consumption patterns.

Are Some Substances More Addictive Than Others?

Not all substances have the same level of addiction, and a user’s road to dependency can vary greatly depending on which particularly substance is being abused. Common drug addictions can be broken down into three categories that roughly correspond to the first three levels on the FDA’s schedule of controlled substances: drugs that are highly addictive (schedule I), drugs that are moderately addictive (schedule II), and drugs that are minimally addictive (schedules III through V).

Crack cocaine is the worst drug in terms of speed and intensity that a user can become addicted. Crack offers a more intense high than cocaine. It enters the bloodstream more quickly when smoked rather than snorted.  However, the high ends much more quickly, which is one of the reasons that even first- time users have a high risk of engaging in compulsive and addictive use of this particular drug.

Crack addiction seems to be decreasing in favor of other controlled substances such as Oxycodone which is also highly addictive. This opioid is often prescribed by doctors to help with pain management. Dependency occurs when users take more than prescribed by their doctors and they become reliant on the feelings of euphoria.

Many people believe that Tamadol, another opioid used for pain relief, is the new Oxycodone in terms of addiction. Medical professionals initially started prescribing it because they thought it was safer than oxycodone. However, Tamadol users also have a high risk of addiction. Naloxone is the usual treatment to detox an addict from opioids. It seems to be less effective in treating addictions to Tamadol. It may cause an increase in fatal overdoses related to use of this drug.

Morphine & Xanax

SubstancesMorphine is another common pain killing substance which is derived from the poppy plant. It’s available in a variety of forms from oral to I.V. transmission. It relieved the pain after the surgery. Psychological dependency on morphine can happen after only a few doses but patients would have to use it for many months before developing a physical addiction to this medication. The problem with morphine for addicts is that it is dangerous to simply stop using the drug. Users need to taper off doses under medical supervision.

Xanax, a schedule IV controlled substance used to alleviate the feelings of anxiety and other medical purposes. The FDA’s schedule classified it so low, therefore considered to have a low addiction rate. However, that does not stop people with addictive personalities from abusing the drug, even people with a legitimate prescription for it.

Tens of thousands of people every year enter treatment centers due to overuse of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax. Adderall is the drug used to help people with ADHD, a behavioral disorder. Some people have reported developing a dependency on it, but the risk is rather low for addiction.

There’s a difference between taking medically prescribed substances for legitimate reasons and for recreational use. Taking multiple kinds of drugs at the same time or taking it with alcohol increases the risk of overdose.

Does Drug or Alcohol Rehab Work?

There are plenty of successful recovery stories that testify that drug and centers can work well for many addicts. However, this success really hinges on matching the right kind of treatment with the specifics of the addiction and the addict’s personality. Not every treatment for addiction is the same, just as not every addict is the same. In fact, there’s no official way to measure the success of a rehab program. It all depends on how the addict defines success. If the goal is just to reduce consumption, then this might be easier to achieve than addressing some of the underlying issues that might prevent someone from entering recovery completely.

Some people who abuse drugs or alcohol do manage to quit on their own. However, one might argue that if an addict can decide on his or her own to change their behavior, then maybe their dependence wasn’t to the level of addiction. This is where rehabilitation centers come in. Some addicts have such bad withdrawal symptoms vomiting, physical shakes that resemble seizures—that they need around-the clock medical care. This type of care is known as in-patient or residential care, depending on how long the addict stays in the facility. In-patient services are usually shorter, about a month, while residential programs tend to be longer. An alternative treatment plan would be an outpatient program that relies on counseling and mentoring.

Rehab Programs

RehabMany in-patient and residential programs are very costly. However, this might make an addict take them more seriously. If you know that you are committing a large sum of money to your health, you tend to value the process more. Also, you can weigh the cost of rehabilitation against the cost of fines and lawyer fees resulting from addictive behaviours. You might get into jail when caught in the possession of illegal narcotics.

And then, of course, there’s the old adage “you get what you pay for.” Rehab programs are often staffed by knowledgeable medical staff with graduate degrees in their fields. The national boards often evaluated the centers. However, a treatment plan is only as good as the commitment a patient makes to it. If an addict does not truly want to recover, then it won’t happen. Mere completion of program doesn’t indicate success, as patients can revert back to their old habits after finishing the treatment. So much of recovery from addiction has to happen through changes in the outlook of the person suffering from addiction.

Bear in mind that a relapse isn’t an indication that treatment hasn’t been successful. Neither is it a judgment about the personal failing of the addict. In fact, it’s merely just a pretty normal step in the process of recovery. Addicts often relapse few times before they realize the severity of addiction and the need to avoid from mood-altering substances. In many ways, the most important “work” rehabs  accomplish is to introduce addicts to the basic tenets of 12-step programs, healthy routines and habits, and what it takes to achieve long-term sobriety.


How Addictive is Fentanyl and Why it is so Dangerous?

Fentanyl comes from the same family of drug that contain heroine, but—if you can imagine—it’s actually much worse. It’s about 100 times more potent than morphine. Until recently, few people had heard of how dangerous it is. But now the media has begun to pay attention to the rising death toll from its use. After all, it’s the painkiller responsible for killing the much beloved rock star, Prince.

For recreational users, even just a couple of milligrams of this opioid can be fatal. There are many illegal versions of it circulating in the streets, mixed with various substances that interact in dangerous ways. Called non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF), this drug is produced in makeshift labs and is often cut with cocaine or heroin. Sometimes an addict understands the high risks involved with Fentanyl and buys what they think is heroine, instead. However, what they might have been getting is mixed with fentanyl. Even the tiniest amount can result in death. Recently, law enforcement and medical professionals begun finding traces of Fentanyl in pills.

Even with prescription use, fentanyl can cause seizures, respiratory failure, coma, and death. One of the major reasons that Fentanyl deaths are rising is because of how quickly users die from it, well before most emergency medical personnel can administer successful treatment, often an injection of naloxone. The effect that Fentanyl has on the muscles of the abdomen and chest often makes it difficult for first responders to administer CPR.

Why is Fentanyl so Dangerous?

How Addictive is FentanylFentanyl kills users quickly because it works faster than other opioids. This is one of the reasons addicts seek it out. While something like morphine has to circulate in the blood for a while before it reaches the brain, other opioids work faster. Fentanyl bonds more quickly to the brain’s receptors than heroine, for instance, and gives the user almost an instant high. It is so potent, that medical professional measure it in micrograms. Fentanyl is an alternative for patients with an established high tolerance of other opioids. These patients need something stronger to deal with their pain such as cancer patients. Because of this initial application, drug makers did not consider how addictive Fentanyl would be or how easily it could kill someone using it without a prescription.

The death toll from Fentanyl will probably rise before people begin to understand just how deadly it is. While any addict should seek help for his or her narcotics use, someone who is addicted to Fentanyl or other opioids needs special care. First, before they can enter a recovery program, these addicts must go through a special detox program that tapers them down off the drug under medical supervision.

How do You Overcome Addiction?

How to Overcome Addiction?

Many schools of thought on how to overcome addiction are existing nowadays. Some believe in the harm reduction model. Noted addiction expert Gabor Mate supports the theory that addiction is the result of trauma. Addicts use drugs in order to manage the feelings around what they’ve experienced. They believe that the way to overcome addiction is to deal with the trauma. Therapeutic methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, EFT and other techniques are helpful. Those who subscribe to the harm reduction model believe that addicts and alcoholics do not need to remain abstinent. Instead, learn to moderate their behavior or use less harmful drugs (hence the term “harm reduction). Example, a heroin addict quitting opiates but continuing to use marijuana.

Harm reduction advocates often believe in the use of Suboxone, which is a prescription medicine that contains buprenorphine (which eases drug cravings) and naloxone (which blocks the effects of opiates) and must be administered by a medical professional. Suboxone is use to detox opiate users. Some people stay on the drug after detox. It’s a way of preventing them from using stronger opiates.

Treatment Programs

Overcome AddictionOthers believe that addiction can only be overcome through abstinence and that addicts can never use substances with any sort of moderation. AA is the best-known program for helping addicts find and maintain sobriety. The primarily requirement is to develop a relationship with a Higher Power. As a result, there are other abstinence-based programs that have no spiritual component, including SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, Celebrate Recovery, LifeRing and The Matrix Model. AA members, or 12-steppers, believe that addicts never truly overcome addiction but are able to arrest it by remaining abstinent, attending meetings, working the 12 steps and practicing the principles of AA. Many addicts, however, are able to remain abstinent without a program (something AA members often call “white knuckling”).

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Addiction?

In the case of addiction, whether to illegal substances or prescription drugs, abuse usually begins as recreational use and escalates into something much more destructive. With continued use, the addict’s tolerance increases. Thereby necessitating a greater amount of the drug in order to achieve the same high as before. A generally agreed-upon definition of addiction is when one loses control over the quantity and frequency of one’s drug use and when one continues using even when faced with clear evidence that this activity is causing damage to one’s life.

A drug dependency can make the addict feel powerless to stop using because the cravings are so bad. This is because continued drug use alters an addict’s brain, changing the way its pleasure centers work. The telltale effects of addiction can be broken down into three categories: behavioral, physical, and emotional. Not every addict exhibits signs from each of these categories. However, drug users may begin to experience financial trouble. They fail to meet responsibility either at work or home. These are some of the reasons why it is important to seek help for addiction.  Physical signs include sweating, feeling nauseated, or getting the shakes when the drug wears off. Emotionally, addicts often have intense mood swings.

If you have a family member you suspect is suffering from a drug addiction, the following behaviors may offer confirmation of your fears: difficulties keeping a job or staying in school, poor grooming habits, weight loss, different sleeping habits, listlessness, bloodshot eyes, increased secrecy, and stealing.

Drug Addictions

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Drug addictions don’t only happen to illegal substances sold on the street, either. They can also happen with prescription medicines given to someone by a doctor for a legitimate medical issue. However, if you are faking a medical condition in order to get drugs, go to more than one doctor to get drugs, use someone else medication, or if you fail to use the medication according to the doctor’s directions, then you should likely seek help from a professional who can recommend a proper course of treatment for your addiction. Drug abuse can be a sign that you have an addictive personality, in which case, it would be unlikely that you can break the physical and neurological pattern on your own. In addition, many doctors now realize that drug abuse isn’t only a sign of an addictive personality.

Some addicts fool themselves into thinking their addiction isn’t as bad as it is. If you have begun to feel anxious about making sure you have enough drugs, or if you are making “deals” with yourself, such as only allowing yourself to do drugs on the weekends, it could mean that your brain has already been significantly altered by your drug use so that you are emotionally if not physically dependent on it. If you’ve ever blacked out or suffered from memory loss, then your drug use has moved beyond the social stage. You are possibly into abuse or dependency.