Thursday, February 14, 2013

Searcher: Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

This week we were assigned to read chapter 15 in the book which talked about addiction. While reading the first few pages, I saw that the book talked about the criteria to diagnose a person of addiction to drugs. Even though the book might not have intended for this since the book used the word “diagnose”, I kept thinking of addiction as being a disease. I took AP Psychology in high school and a very heated discussion that we had was if addiction is a disease or a choice. Our class could not even come to a conclusion. At that time I thought addiction was sort of both, but after some research into this topic, I realized that it cannot be both. An article that I found interesting was “Is Addiction Just a Matter of Choice?” by John Stossel of ABC News. It talked about how addiction has become the national icon of the United States and how it is popular today to blame others for our addictions. There have been cases where people sued McDonalds for getting their child addicted to their food or the government for getting people addicted to video slot machines. Even though the case against McDonalds lost, the case against the government with the video slot machines won. Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse called drug addiction a “disease that will waste your brain.” There has been research that genes have an influence in addiction so people blame genetics and “disease” for their addiction problem. However, the article goes into say that even though genetics and the brain may have an impact in getting someone addicted to drugs, when the choice between to eat that burger or not that eat burger, to smoke that cigarette or not to smoke, to take that shot or not take that shot, it comes down to choice. The article says that “since 60 percent of smokers have quit--that’s 50 million Americans--it seems obvious that people do have free will.” The more interesting fact is that studies show that most addicts who do recover do so without professional help. Even though this debate is ongoing, and there will always be new studies popping up, I believe that addiction is a choice and people do have the free will to quit.

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