Addiction experts acknowledge that repeated drug use causes distinct brain changes that mimic learning processes involved with other activities and will return to normal when drugs are no longer taken.

Some individuals believe that the disease model of addiction undermines moral accountability and restricts addicts’ free will; thankfully, such beliefs are completely baseless.

Changes in the Brain

Addiction is a chronic disease that impacts every aspect of a person’s life, from health to relationships and work. Addiction occurs when certain areas of the brain change, making it harder to control behavior and leading to compulsive drug use. Addiction must be seen as a disease because its consequences can have severe ramifications on all areas of one’s life–health, family and work alike.

Substances of abuse target the reward center of the brain by stimulating it with dopamine, creating a sensation of overwhelming pleasure. Over time, however, this causes adaptation to drug presence; once this process starts happening regularly enough, more drugs will be required to provide similar effects; which reduces one’s ability to find enjoyment elsewhere, like food or family activities.

The disease model of addiction emphasizes abstinence from addictive substances and behaviors for recovery to occur, but recognizes this can be challenging to do without help from peers who have also recovered from substance use disorders themselves. Such peer support networks offer hope and encouragement by sharing personal stories of recovery; cancer survivors as well as people recovering from PTSD often find healing through joining groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Changes in Behavior

Many who struggle with addiction believe they made poor choices that led to their substance use disorder (SUD), but that’s often not the case. Addiction alters how your brain functions and can significantly compromise your decision-making, self-control and memory skills as well as cause compulsive seeking of drugs even when these substances cause adverse consequences on health, relationships and careers.

Due to these changes, people suffering from addiction cannot stop using drugs or engaging in harmful behavior. As a result, they lie about their drug or alcohol use, risk damaging physical or mental health, and devote much time and thought to thinking about, craving for, or obtaining the substance or behavior in question. They might experience issues in terms of work, school and home responsibilities due to this dependence, as well as feeling guilt-ridden, depressed and overwhelmed about its influence in their lives.

Changes in Decision-Making

Addiction can hinder one’s ability to make choices. They may continue abusing drugs or engaging in addictive behavior despite knowing it could harm or endanger their wellbeing, lying about their activity or withholding information about how much they’re using from loved ones, straining relationships and spending more time obtaining and thinking about the substance/behavior than on work, home, and family duties.

As soon as they discontinue drug use or engaging in addictive behavior, withdrawal or other negative symptoms may arise. The discomfort they feel from quitting could push them back toward using again in order to ease it. They might have difficulty focusing on work or other activities due to withdrawal symptoms and could start missing school or work to engage in their addiction instead; their relationships with families and friends could suffer because of addiction as well.

However, it is essential to keep in mind that no single factor determines a person’s likelihood of addiction. The disease model highlights the role of one’s brain in their ability (or lack thereof) to control substance use or not. People living with diseases may still reduce or quit their addictive behaviors altogether – though doing so might prove more challenging than for those without medical issues.

Associating addiction as a disease helps destigmatize and humanize those struggling with substance or alcohol use disorders, encouraging more compassionate and effective prevention and treatment measures. Furthermore, this model can raise awareness for evidence-based interventions and public health policies that address prevention, relapse rates, compliance rates with treatments as well as compliance rates with such treatments. Furthermore, viewing addiction as an incurable, chronic disease helps explain why so many who struggle with addiction cannot stop on their own and why so many relapse after periods of abstinence.

Changes in Relationships

Drug addiction not only results in physical changes, but can also have far-reaching repercussions for relationships among friends, family members and co-workers. Addiction can make people lie about their use or engage in other harmful addictive behaviors that harm relationships; some even become increasingly obsessed with their substance of activity of choice and spend much of their time craving, obtaining and thinking about it; some become unable to stop engaging in the behavior altogether and face legal implications due to this continued behavior – something which may affect all involved parties involved and lead them down an increasingly destructive path towards legal issues involving legal ramifications as a result.

Engaging in addictive behavior such as using drugs or engaging in other addictive behaviors may reduce your willingness to devote time and attention to things that bring pleasure, such as work, hobbies and family obligations. This leaves more time and opportunity for you to engage in addictive behaviour – potentially making it easier to resume taking drugs or engaging in addictive behavior later.

Many individuals who struggle with an addiction find themselves grappling with feelings of resentment toward those closest to them, leading to anger and eventually breaking trust in the relationship. Sometimes this results in domestic violence; such cases are especially risky when an addict uses substances known to induce violent behaviour like cocaine.

Environment can play an integral part in increasing your risk for addiction. Poverty, lack of access to education and healthcare services, early life experiences such as abuse or trauma may all increase the chances of addiction in an individual.

Viewing addiction as a disease model can help reduce stigma and promote successful referral and treatment engagement. Humanizing individuals affected by addiction allows more compassionate treatment from professionals. Furthermore, raising awareness about this approach to drug addiction and recovery will have lasting positive results in society at large.

Here are some questions for you to consider to continue your healing journey:

  1. What strategies or resources can I utilize to seek help and support in my recovery journey?
  2. How can understanding addiction as a disease model help me overcome feelings of guilt and shame associated with my addiction?
  3. What steps can I take to rebuild and repair relationships that have been affected by my substance use or addictive behaviors?