Theory of Addiction: The Disease Model

It is a common knowledge that addiction is characterized by compulsive and out of control dependence on a substance, or a practice or habit with such an overwhelming degree that cessation causes severe mental , emotional and physical imbalance. Normally addiction is associated with prohibited drugs and stimulants in the likes of cocaine and amphetamines, hallucinogens like lysergic acid dietylamide or LSD and commonly associated with nicotine and alcohol. Countless studies are available related to the origin and causes of addiction but in the last decade, there were reliable studies pointing to the

fact that addiction is not only a disorder but a disease of the brain. In conjunction with this, it can be hypothesized that addiction is a mental disease in the sense that those afflicted although they are not willing to sacrifice everything to achieve satisfaction cannot do otherwise as their brain is already malfunctioning and can only be cured by combination of therapeutic medicines, social and psychological interventions. This paper aims to document the disease model of addiction theory and provide proven methods of intervention of cure and therapy. The Disease Model of Addiction

Leshner (1977) associated with National Institute of Health of the United States declared that scientific studies over the past 20 years has proven that drug addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease brought about by repeated and prolonged effect of drugs to the brain. The doctor further revealed that similar with other brain diseases, addiction was observed to be associated with abnormal social and behavioral context and as such should be considered as an integral part of diagnosis and treatment. Nobody sets his life to become addicted to drugs or other substances and activities.

The Schick Shadel Hospital article on Drug and Alcohol Rehab Program provided a simple medical explanation on addiction disease and cure. According to the article, there are two common properties of addictive drugs. First, the drug produces a satisfying effect and this 2 normally will be followed by an unpleasant feeling of depression and irritability. The drug produces a chemical imbalance resulting to an uncontrollable urge to try again the drug. The article further revealed that “the body’s normal production of chemicals in the brain, which ordinarily produce feelings of pleasure, are suppressed, sending the brain into a state

of depression. It physically demands more of the drug to go back to “normal” and feel good again” (Why are drugs and alcohol addictive, 2nd par. ). The cycle of pleasure and tension result to loss of control related to drug and alcohol intake and result to addiction. The Schick Shadel Hospital revealed that under the normal reward of the brain, the different physiological needs as hunger and sex as well as recognition from friends are satisfied, a signal is sent to the brain cells with the aid of chemical known as dopamine which is a reward system signal messenger. When the monitor cells are stimulated, a signal is sent and

a small amount of dopamine is released and it stimulates the reward center of the brain causing a feeling of satisfaction. The Schick Shadel Hospital further revealed that under the drug and alcohol reward system, these substances produce an unrealistic pleasure feeling. Drugs and alcohol imitate the pleasurable effect that dopamine transmit and also produces a satisfying feeling in effect. “For example, a narcotic drug that mimics endorphin (nature’s natural pain reliever) directly stimulates the reward center. This short-circuits the survival mechanisms because the reward center cell can’t tell the difference between the drug and

the natural chemical messenger” (5th par. ). The resulting condition is the development within the brain of a dominant feeling of dependency for immediate and real time effect of drugs and short circuiting the interest and motivation of the body on the normal reward 3 system, the Shick Shadel Hospital further revealed. When a drug or alcohol enters the blood stream, they can also cause the artificial release of dopamine. The system sends a positive reward message to the memory thus recording the first of the pleasures. This lying system of the alcohol and drugs to the rewards system gives a stimulating effect by

stopping the production of the normal stimulatory chemistry thus maintaining the balance of dopamine. The Schick Shadel Hospital further added that the first satisfying feeling is stored in the mind’s subconscious memory and always instructs the mind to recapture it. The individual normally fails to get the feeling of high using the rate of the drug when first used due to the property of the drug to reduce the flow of dopamine. The usual adaptation is to use a higher rate to achieve the feeling of high brought about by the higher dopamine release. This situation goes in a cycle starting from dependency and graduating to an

addiction. The Schick Shadel Hospital revealed that the normal chemistry of the body to react to rewarding experiences is suppressed more strongly the longer the time the drug is used resulting to almost complete shut down of the dopamine production. At this time, if the drug use is withdrawn, panic will set in characterized by extreme irritability, anxiety and depression. This is because the central survival system signals the brain that the body is in distress. The normal reward system at this time is completely shutdown as the production of dopamine which is the chemical messenger of satisfaction

has been suppressed by the drug action. The persistence of withdrawal symptoms vary according to the degree of damage done on the normal reward system. “The most common symptoms are craving, irritability, loss of energy, depression, fearfulness, need for sleep, 4 difficulty sleeping, shaking, nausea, palpitations, sweating, hyperventilation and increased appetite. These symptoms can last for several weeks. With medical treatment, these symptoms can be handled and eliminated much more quickly”. (The Effects of Withdrawal can Increase Dependencies, 2nd par. ). It can be recalled that drugs and alcohol can short

circuit the survival system by artificially affecting the reward center without beneficial effects to the body. The Schick Shadel Hospital further revealed that as this happens, the mental confidence on the practicality of drug use to achieve the pleasurable effect is strongly developed while other survival feelings are rendered useless. The result is dwarfing of the other areas of life’s activities. The things, people and activities related to drug use suddenly becomes interesting while the people, places and activities related to normal reward system become less and less important. The heavy user will resent people,

activities and places as the feeling of not being accepted sets in, the Schick Shadel Hospital revealed further. The memory works like a cassette recorder. The pleasant pleasurable effects and the agony of withdrawal are strongly encrypted into the memory and can be replayed so many times resulting to the strengthened memory due to repetition. In the repeated and prolonged process of drug intake, the brain is severely affected thus actions resemble that of a mentally impaired individual rendering it a mental disease. It was proven that the disease of addiction exhibit abnormal social and emotionally related actions.

Psychologists Graham and Hughes (2005) stated in their research that “Addiction is viewed as resulting from a failure in the separation-individuation process. Due to lack of reliable selfobjects and failure to make transmuting internalizations, the 5 addict remains dependent upon transmuting externalizations in an attempt to incorporate soothing objects into the self” (Abstract). This statement supports the claim of Schick Shadel Hospital that individuals with addiction sickness find the use of drug essential in order to successfully achieve the mental separation-individuation process that lead to satisfaction and rewarding feeling.

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