Why Addiction can be Classified as an Illness

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Anyone previously addicted to drugs or alcohol will tell you that addiction is an illness that requires professional medical help. However, many believe that alcohol and drug dependency is just a symptom of another illness and that once it has been treated, the addiction will be healed.

In this article, we’ll set the record straight and tell you why addiction can be classified as an illness. Addiction can be defined as an illness because it meets similar requirements as other diseases as well as various fatal conditions, which is vital to remember as if it is left untreated, death will occur.

These requirements are:

  1. Addiction symptoms are similar, no matter what type of drug is being used.
  2. Addiction is an illness that gets worse when left untreated.
  3. Relapses are similar to other diseases that hide and resurface.
  4. Addiction can be treated.

Addiction is analysed by an individual’s behaviour in contrast to their physical symptoms or medical treatment. In a nutshell, the way an addict behaves is seen as a failure to control their alcohol or drug use, despite it negatively affecting their health and well-being. Some professionals believe that addiction, in some cases, is in the genetic make-up of drug or alcohol addicts and that it takes an environmental issue to kick start it.

This theory makes it a complete central nervous system illness, as becoming tolerant (needing more and more of a drug to achieve an effect that was previously felt through lower dosages), physically dependent and a full blown addict builds new nervous system pathways that will remain in the body long after an individual stops using drugs or alcohol. This means that even after addiction treatment, recovering addicts will still crave narcotic substances.

Once addiction has taken full control of the body, addicts will constantly want and use the substance, thus making it important to note that dependency has nothing to do with willpower or physical strength. Addiction is an illness with no cure and recovery is a lifelong commitment. Just like someone wouldn’t treat a life-threatening illness in the comfort of your own home, the best way to treat an addiction by getting treatment at a drug or alcohol rehabilitation centre. One of the worst features of addiction is that addicts will rarely want to get treatment by themselves as they are unable to believe that they have a problem.

That’s why family and friends play an important role in the recovery process. If you know of a loved one struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s important that you do everything in your power to get them into treatment. One of the biggest myths about addiction treatment is that forcing someone into treatment is the wrong thing to do. This is totally untrue as time after time it has been proven that patients, who are forced, cajoled or even legally threatened into rehab has no effect on whether treatment will be successful or not. In fact, in some cases, it offers a better chance of a successful recovery. We offer access into the best private drug and alcohol treatment centres in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Thailand. Call us now and let one of our qualified addiction counsellors assist in finding the right treatment available for you.

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