Is Addiction a Disease?

woman reflects on the question is addiction a disease

If you are familiar with addiction, you may have heard addiction referred to as a disease. But why is addiction a disease? Addiction involves complex changes to your pleasure and reward center and interferes with your brain’s ability to produce and release the proper amounts of neurotransmitters. Like other mental health disorders, addiction results in changes to your brain chemistry that can be very difficult to treat.

Nearly half of all people recovering from addiction and substance abuse issues ultimately relapse. Relapse occurs when you return to abusing drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence and is so common because addiction is a chronic, incurable disease. If you are still wondering is addiction a disease, the simple answer is yes. The next question concerns finding adequate treatment for addiction. An addiction recovery program in South Houston TX could be key to helping you or a loved one.

Why is Addiction a Disease?

So, why is addiction a disease? A disease is a condition that negatively affects an individual that is not caused by an injury. Diseases can include both medical and mental health disorders and conditions. Addiction is a condition that compels you to continue using drugs or alcohol despite continued negative consequences.

Addiction and substance abuse also significantly alter your brain’s pleasure and reward center. When your brain begins associating drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors with pleasure, it becomes dependent on that substance to release things like serotonin and dopamine. Reminders of your substance of choice results in powerful cravings. These cravings can make it very difficult to stop using.

When your brain becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol to release neurotransmitters, you can experience both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox program assists with the most severe cases of withdrawal, so you can get clean and begin further treatment.

Addiction can also cause:

  • Organ damage, such as liver disease
  • Infections and viruses
  • Changes in your mood, such as increased depression or anxiety
  • Insomnia and sleep problems
  • Medical problems related to drug or alcohol use
  • Medical issues caused by overdosing
  • Cognitive impairment and memory loss

How is Addiction Treated?

Since addiction is a disease, treatment includes changes to your thinking patterns and behavior. A key element of substance abuse treatment is identifying negative thoughts and behaviors and finding ways to change negative actions and reactions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other evidence-based treatments assist with this process. Learning how to cope with negative emotions and life events can also help you heal from substance abuse.

Finding healthy coping mechanisms to utilize while stressed, depressed, or overwhelmed can help retrain your brain to no longer rely on drugs and alcohol. Treatment also teaches important skills like conflict resolution, communication, and stress management techniques. Additionally, recreational therapy programs and regular exercise help you regain control of your physical needs to provide a foundation for long-term recovery. Since addiction is difficult to treat without help, therapy and treatment centers provide you with additional resources during early recovery.

The Best Addiction Recovery Program for You

When wondering why is addiction a disease, you may learn how much substance abuse problems interact with brain chemistry and emotions. Reaching out for help can feel overwhelming but committing to treatment can help change your life. Kemah Palms, a Houston substance abuse treatment center, has the experience to help guide you to recovery. To learn more about you or a loved one’s treatment options, call us today at 866-604-1873.