Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Whether a person is genetically or biochemically predisposed to addiction or alcoholism is a controversy that has been debated for years within the scientific, medical and chemical dependency communities. On school of thought believes in the “Disease concept” which embraces the notion that addiction is an inherited disease, and that the individual is permanently ill at a genetic level, even for those experiencing long periods of sobriety. Another thought argues that addiction is a dual problem consisting of a physical and mental dependency on chemicals, compounded by a pre-existing mental disorder, and that the mental disorder needs to be treated firs as the primary cause of addiction.

Another belief subscribes to the idea that chemical dependency leads to permanent “chemical imbalances” in the neurological system that must be treated with psychotropic medications after the person has withdrawn from their drug of choice.

The fact remains that there is some scientific research that favors each of these addiction concepts, but none of them are absolute. Based on national averages, addiction treatment has a 16% to 20% recovery rate. The message is pretty clear that these theories are just that, theories, and we have a lot more to learn if we are to bring the national recovery rate to a more desirable level.

There is a fourth school of thought which has proven to be more accurate. It has to do with the life cycle of addiction. This data is universally applicable to addiction, no matter which thought is used to explain the phenomenon of chemical dependency.

The life cycle of addiction begins with a problem, discomfort or some form of emotional or physical pain a person is experiencing. The person finds this very difficult to deal with.

Examples include difficulty fitting in, physical injury such as broken bone, or some other chronic physical condition. Discomfort associated with a difficulty presents the individual with a real problem. He feels this problem is a major situation that is persisting. He can see no immediate resolution or relief from it. Most of us have experienced this in our lives to a greater or lesser degree.

Once a person takes a drug, he feels relief from discomfort, even though the relief is only temporary. That drink or drug is adopted as a solution to the problem and the individual places value on the substance. This assigned value is the only reason the person ever uses drugs or drinks a second, third or more times.

For those that start down the path of addiction, they will encounter other physical, mental and lifestyle changes along the way that will being to cause the individual’s quality of life to deteriorate. If the drug or alcohol abuse continues unchecked, eventually the person is faced with so many unpleasant circumstances. In his life that each sober moment is filled with so much despair and misery that all he wants to do is escape these feelings by medication the away. This is the downward spiral of addiction.  At this point for most there are only there outcomes: death, prison, or sobriety.