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Is Addiction a Disease?

silhouette of road signage during golden hour, is addiction a disease or a choice

The argument about addiction being a disease or a choice affects how we support people in recovery. The way we view addiction can impact the resources and support available to those struggling with it. Alcohol abuse and mental health can often go hand in hand. Getting help requires a holistic approach to properly start the path toward healing. Many people are unsure of the nature of addiction, whether it’s a matter of personal willpower or a complex medical condition. However, at ILC we want to support each person who worries they are at risk of developing alcohol addiction. 

Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

To answer the question, “Is addiction a disease or a choice?” We must first understand the nature of addiction itself. Addiction when a person is compulsively seeking to use something, despite harmful consequences. It is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that alters the brain’s structure and function. 

With alcohol addiction, a person is also subjected to alcohol withdrawal and other withdrawal symptoms. 

The Disease Model of Addiction

The disease model of addiction posits that addiction is a chronic brain disorder. Here are some key points that support this model:

  • Neurological Changes: Addiction causes significant changes in the brain’s reward system, affecting how individuals experience pleasure and reward. These changes can lead to compulsive behavior that is difficult to control.
  • Genetic Factors: Research has shown that genetics can play a substantial role in the likelihood of developing an addiction. Individuals with a family history of addiction are more predisposed to it.
  • Environmental Influences: Factors such as stress, trauma, and early exposure to drugs or alcohol can contribute to the development of addiction.

The Choice Argument

On the other hand, some working in addiction recovery believe addiction is a choice. They emphasize that it is still a person’s initial decision to use the substances in the first place. They believe that people have the power to stop using drugs or alcohol if they choose to do so. However, this perspective often overlooks the complexity of addiction and the changes it brings to the brain and behavior.

Is Alcohol Addiction a Disease?

When thinking about whether alcohol use disorder is a disease, the evidence supports the idea that addiction is a disease. The same neurological, genetic, and environmental factors that contribute to other substance addictions also apply to alcohol addiction. Recognizing alcohol addiction as a disease helps reduce stigma and encourages a more compassionate approach to treatment.

Evidence-based Addiction Treatment

Effective alcohol addiction treatment uses scientifically proven therapies and interventions. ILC offerings include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • 12-step philosophy
  • Somatic therapies
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Psychiatric support
  • Massage
  • Yoga
  • Adventure-based therapies

Holistic Alcohol Rehab Center

A holistic alcohol rehab center, like ILC, takes a comprehensive approach to treatment for substance use disorders, addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of recovery. Holistic therapies may include:

  • Yoga and Meditation: These practices help reduce stress, increase mindfulness, and improve overall mental health.
  • Nutritional Counseling: Proper nutrition supports physical health and aids in the recovery process.
  • Art and Music Therapy: These creative therapies provide healthy outlets for expressing emotions and coping with stress.

Alcohol Rehab Retreat

An alcohol rehab retreat offers a serene and supportive environment where individuals can focus on recovery away from everyday stressors. These retreats often combine traditional and holistic therapies to promote healing and wellness.

Can You Force An Alcoholic Into Rehab?

While this is a common question, the answer is complex. Legally, in some cases, a person can be mandated to enter treatment through court orders or intervention strategies, especially if they pose a danger to themselves or others. However, for treatment to be effective, the individual must be willing to engage in the recovery process. Coerced treatment can sometimes initiate the process, but personal commitment is crucial for long-term success.

Working in Addiction Recovery

Working in addiction recovery requires a compassionate, understanding approach. Professionals in this field often face the challenge of helping individuals navigate the complexities of addiction and recovery. It involves:

  • Assessment and Diagnosis: Identifying the specific needs and challenges of each individual.
  • Therapeutic Interventions: Implementing evidence-based and holistic therapies tailored to the individual’s needs.
  • Support and Aftercare: Providing ongoing support to help individuals maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.

Integrative Life Center Offers Evidence-based Addiction Treatment in Nashville TN

Returning to the bigger question, “Is addiction a disease or a choice?” It’s clear that addiction, including alcohol addiction, is best understood as a disease. Recognizing addiction as a disease reduces stigma and emphasizes the importance of comprehensive treatment approaches and a support group.

If you or a loved one is facing addiction, seeking professional help is the first step toward recovery. Understanding that addiction is a disorder needing treatment can foster a more compassionate and effective approach to treatment. Whether through traditional or holistic methods, the journey to recovery is possible with the right support and commitment. Call Integrative Life Centers today at (615) 891-2226, to learn how to get started on your journey to healing. 

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First Name*
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Voice Confirmation
By checking this box you are providing your expressed written consent and willingness for ILC to call you. We will never share your information.
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By clicking this box you are providing expressed written consent to have ILC contact you via SMS messages 2-4/mo, or in varying amounts. We never share your information. Standard message and data rates apply. Text Opt-Out to be removed at any time.

This is an invitation to take that next step if you need...