Addiction affects the lives of millions of people in the U.S. annually. Also, according to SAMHSA’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 28 million Americans over the age of 12 suffer from some type of substance dependence or abuse. However, one of the main questions surrounding drug or alcohol use is whether people can choose to continue using these substances. Is addiction a choice, or do addicts require the addiction treatment programs Illinois offers due to their inability to say no to their addiction?
What is Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.
ASAM also includes specific characteristics of addiction:
- Inability to consistently abstain from using the substance
- Impaired behavior control
- Dysfunctional emotional response
- Decreased recognition of problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships
- Cycles of relapse and remission
What Causes Addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that a person enters into addiction by choice. However, as the effects of drugs wear on the brain over time, a person may have a more difficult time putting down the substance without some type of professional support and counseling.
Therefore, the question, Is Addiction a Choice? may be better answered once we have a better understanding of how it affects the brain. For example, these effects may include:
- Mimicking neurotransmitters to send signals to the brain or other areas of the nervous system
- Rewarding the brain through ongoing stimulation
- Triggering dopamine release in the brain — a process that creates high levels of pleasure
- Creating a pattern of getting high/drunk, coming, down, withdrawal, craving, repeat
NIDA also outlines key factors that influence a person’s likelihood to become addicted to a substance. These factors may include genetics, gender, ethnicity, early childhood development, as well as family or community environment.
While nearly all healthcare professionals categorize addiction as some form of a disease, further research needs to continue to gain a consensus on the role of choice in overcoming a compulsive behavior. Can a person quit on their own? What type of support is required? Do counseling and treatment increase the likelihood that someone will quit for good?
Help is Available
Northern Illinois Recovery Center is excited to be your partner on the road to recovery. We will work with you or your loved one to figure out which treatment is right for you. For example, a few of our services include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- EMDR therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Fitness therapy
Is addiction a choice? Of course, the answer doesn’t really matter. What does matter is putting you on the path to recovery to live life to its fullest. If you want to find out more about how to enroll in a treatment program today, then call us at 855.786.1978.