ADDICTION IS A DISEASE.
This is a scientific & medically-based fact, no longer an "opinion" or a topic to be debated. Regular use of an illicit, addictive drug, over a long period of time causes severe changes in the brain chemistry which affect not only psychological functioning but motor & physical functioning as well. The changes are functional as well as structural. The effects in the brain alter the normal chemical balance and even when an addict quits using their drug of choice, those effects remain and take months and years to be repaired, while some damage is sometimes permanent.
It is because of this medical knowledge of long-term effects and changes in the brain, that addiction is now classified as a disease. While the initial use of the drug is often times voluntary, even that is a weak argument for those who don't acknowledge medical breakthroughs, because the percentage of people who have voluntarily tried heroin for example, 90% of them will NOT become addicted to it. It is the 10% that for some reason, which is now researched heavily, who DO become addicted and studies are just beginning to show why. Other than being classified as a medical disease, other examples of breakthroughs in addiction treatment we have seen in just the last 10-15 years are Narcan which saves lives every single day in America, Suboxone/Subutex to be the 1st and only outpatient treatment for medication maintenance that isn't tightly regulated like methadone, which requires daily visits where Suboxone is more private, more convenient and only requires a 1 month visit, Vivitrol, the craving-reducing shot which also blocks any desired "high" if a patient decides to take an opiate, therefore acting also as a deterrent but without opiates in the medication itself, The Rapid Opiate Detox Treatment, which under sedation and/or anesthesia, the patient is injected with a course of medications to fully withdraw and detoxify the patient rapidly within an hour or more and when upon wakening, the patient has gone through their entire withdrawal, without having to experience the agony of weeks of indescribable pain and suffering as a "cold-turkey" withdrawal. These are just some major medical advances in medicine for addiction we have seen occur in a very short span of time, with new ones being researched and tested currently.
Involuntary addiction, usually referred to as "dependency" are for example people being chronic pain management patients who require the pain relief level of opiates, and then become dependent (just as those who voluntarily try opiates become dependent also) over time and even with just a very short time of regular use, as little as 1 month of daily use, even at low doses, the patient's brain and body functions rely on these drugs because the brain is drastically altered, which cannot be avoided or preventable.
New research has just shown, that a study involving siblings who one or more were addicts, had significant abnormalities in the brain which non-addicted people did not have. These abnormalities in the brain were found in the areas of impulse control and self-control in general, that were there before the person ever even started using drugs. This information backs up long suggested claims that drug addiction and alcoholism is related to genetic factors. Researchers have known that the brains of people addicted to drugs differ from those of others, but it has not been clear whether this is a cause or effect of addiction. The new study, because it shows that siblings who aren't addicted share brain abnormalities with addicts, suggests the brain differences are a cause of addiction, rather than an effect of drug use, the researchers said. "There is a biological basis why people suffer from addiction," said lead author Karen Ersche, a neuroscientist who researches addictive behavior at the University of Cambridge in England of the journal Science, about this study which was published February 2, 2014. "This study suggests that some brains predispose people to become addicted, should they decide to use drugs," Ersche said. "We need to find out how these nonaddicted siblings were able to resist using drugs." The study also confirms previous studies' findings that if one identical twin suffered from addiction, that the non-addicted twin has a 50:50 chance at also becoming an addict. It is believed that different experiences and their environment may be what causes one twin to initially use drugs while the other doesn't. There are still studies looking into this but as for the brain images, the abnormalities exist and are present in both twins. This evidence overall is further proof of the already documented data that equates addiction as a medical disease due to changes and abnormalities in the brain whther they are before or after intial drug use.
But more and more studies are finding what so many believe and some research like this has shown, that the abnormalities are there before an addict ever uses a drug. This should be proof enough that society should erase from their minds, their damaging and unfounded predjudiced opinions that addicts are weak-willed, without morals or bad people.
Knowing the changes that happen and how it affects you as an addict is important to realizing the severity of your disease as well as effectively recognizing what needs attention and focus in your treatment plan and recovery, especially in early recovery, so you know what to expect. This book is meant to guide and serve you, teaching you the tools you need to work on yourself and work on your life in recovery in order to be successful, happy and healthy once again, as a supplement to the largely non-accessed behavioral and psychological treatment, whether you are on medication therapy or not. Part of those tools include an important part of knowing your disease; what it actually does to your brain and how those changes to your brain manifest in your behaviors and thinking, until your brain is healed with continuous abstinence of your drug of choice, through recovery, sobriety and treatment.
Most of the changes that occur are from neurological damage.