Did you know that more than half of people the age of 12 and older have used an illegal drug at least once in their lives? The disease of addiction is no joke, and it can ruin a person’s life in several ways. Addiction is known for destroying both mental and physical health as well as interfering with or destroying personal relationships.
This is not to mention that the disease concept of addiction comes with all sorts of moral stigmas that negatively affect a person with this disease. Keep reading to learn more about the disease model of addiction and the moral implications that many assign to those with drug addictions.
Moral Implications and Stigmas Assigned to People with Addictions
There are many stigmas surrounding the concept of addiction. Even if you don’t believe that you stigmatize drug addiction, you probably still do to some extent. These stigmas and stereotypes are deep-seated in most people.
For that reason, they can be hard to shake. For example, when referring to a drug user who has stopped using drugs, you may say that this person is “clean.” However, this simple word is rooted in the stigma that drug users are somehow unclean.
This can make drug users feel less like real people and more like a concept or something to be treated with disdain. This is similar to calling someone a junkie. These terms remove the identity of a substance user and can make connecting with the substance user a more difficult task.
Another belief that many people have about substance users is that they are impossible to treat and that they are lost causes. While it is true that dispelling a person’s addiction can be a very difficult task, it is not impossible. Getting over an addiction is a long process, and it does not happen overnight.
Other Stigmas to Dispel
Some people may also get over their addictions easier than others. There are many factors that can alter this process.
For example, if a person has been using an addictive substance for many years, this person’s addiction will typically be much more severe and deep-rooted compared to a person who has only been occasionally using addictive substances over a few weeks or months.
The more severe the addiction is, the harder it will be to beat. Even so, with the right treatment, recovery is always possible. A person may relapse several times without the right treatment.
If the person is determined to kick their addiction, they should eventually be able to stop abusing addictive substances with the help of a support group and a professional rehab facility.
Another moral stigma that people tend to hold against those with addictions is that they are dangerous and violent. While some addicts may become violent, this belief is largely untrue.
Many addicts isolate themselves and typically do not interact with people or go out of their way to meet new people, let alone hurt them. Usually, violence is a problem in those with severe addictions who suffer from violent mood swings due to drug-induced brain damage.
The Disease Theory of Addiction
The disease theory of addiction has become popular in recent years for several reasons. It brings to light many reasons why some may become addicted to substances while others may not. For example, one person may become addicted to a drug after one use.
On the other hand, another person may try an addictive drug several times without an addiction forming. In the same vein, some people may be able to kick an addiction much easier than others. The disease concept of addiction is rooted in the idea that addiction is a biological factor.
Just as some people have blond hair or blue eyes, some people may be more likely to seek out addictive substances and develop addictions. There may be certain genes in the human genome that determine this, although they have not yet been explained. Similar to some other diseases, environmental factors may also play a part in its development.
The disease model of addiction is different from the traditional medical model of addiction. In this belief, the potential drug addict voluntarily takes drugs or alcohol and then develops an addiction to that substance. This is in contrast to the disease model in that the decision to take drugs or alcohol may not be entirely voluntary.
Instead, considering addiction as a disease, the person may naturally have a predisposition to abusing addictive substances against their better judgment. In the disease model of addiction, there is far less self-control involved. In the medical model, a drug user may have the self-control to stop taking a certain drug but may decide not to use it.
There are a few other models of addiction. However, the disease model is becoming more popular. It clearly explains aspects of addiction that other models cannot explain very well.
Keep in mind, however, that the disease model is only a theory. This is also the case with other models of addiction. So far, we do not know the exact reason why addictions form more easily in some people than in others.
We also do not understand many of the mechanisms behind drug and alcohol addiction. While we do know that the balance of chemicals in the brain plays a big part, many of the details are still unknown. Whatever the case, addiction is always a dangerous thing to deal with no matter what addiction model you may believe.
Once an addiction forms, it will slowly destroy the body and mind if it is not treated as soon as possible. This is especially true for those who abuse a substance over the span of several years. Over time, addiction will only get worse.
But how does drug and alcohol addiction affect the body in the first place?
How Addictive Substances Affect the Body
The excessive use of illicit drugs almost always ends up causing some kind of medical problem. The exact health problems that arise will depend on what kind of substance a person is using. Some produce effects that are far more dangerous than others.
For example, crystal meth is a very hard drug that causes serious health problems. Many people who use meth end up with a condition known as “meth mouth.” This is a condition that involves the degradation of the teeth and gums.
People who use meth may also have red, patchy, or irritated skin across their face and body. This is due to an itching sensation that meth causes that impels the user to scratch and pick at their skin. Other drugs, not just meth, often cause changes in a person’s weight.
In particular, substance users tend to lose large amounts of weight in short periods of time. This will lead to the person looking very thin and unhealthy. Often, the person will look much older than their real age due to this gaunt physique.
The loss of weight stems from the fact that drugs often suppress the body’s desire for food. Instead of craving food, a user may instead crave and seek out their substance of choice. The user will eat very little and weight loss will result from this.
Brain damage is another factor that may occur after using addictive substances for a long time. This is especially true for very hard drugs like meth, cocaine, and heroin. Substance use destroys and shrinks certain areas of the brain, especially those that have to do with memory and mood.
People who have abused substances for a long time may have difficulty remembering information they learned in the past. They may also have a hard time remembering new information or even what they were saying in the middle of a sentence. Damage to the areas of the brain regarding mood can also affect a person’s behavior.
Due to these neurological changes, a person may shift moods without warning. A drug user may seem calm in one moment but then may be aggressive in the next.
The Disease of Addiction
The disease of addiction is a hard problem to beat, but it isn’t impossible. The disease model of addiction explains that addiction is actually a problem rooted in one’s biological foundation and genes. Even so, this doesn’t mean that a substance user is impossible to treat.
With the right kind of treatment and support, a user can overcome addiction and lead a fulfilling life. To learn more about treatment, don’t hesitate to contact us here.