IS ADDICTION A DISEASE OR CHOICE? (Hint: It’s neither)

IS ADDICTION A DISEASE OR CHOICE? (Hint: It’s neither)


Is addiction a disease, a choice, a sin a moral failure? What the heck is it? Well, for the past whole bunch of years, I’ve been teaching and telling people that it’s a disease and unfortunately I’m going to have to backpedal on that just a bit, so stay tuned and find out exactly why I’m having to recant some of the things that I’ve said previously For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Amber Hollingsworth and you are watching Put the Shovel Down, the YouTube channel dedicated to teaching you the psychology of addiction so you can recover yourself or a loved one and get back to living the life that you want to live If that’s something that you’re trying to do make sure you subscribe to this channel and I’ll make sure you have tools, resources, and support to make that happen. Okay, onto the big confession. So, I’ve been teaching that addiction is a disease pretty much since I’ve been a counselor and part of that reason is, because that’s what they taught us in school. It makes perfect sense in a lot of ways One of the big things that stick out in my mind is that it must be a disease because you can pretty much predict and count on exactly what’s going to happen to all different kinds of people. What I mean by that is, You can take a teenager or an adult or a person with a lot of money or a person with no money and you can almost predict what they’re going to do so there’s got be something to this whole thing it can’t just be a choice or a coincidence or some other random thing that keeps happening to people. There’s something there If you want to, you can look back on our YouTube channel and find lots of videos where I call it a disease where I talk about the brain part of the disease But it’s just al little bit more complicated than that. You see, the theory that addiction is a disease comes from this guy named Jellinik who talked about addiction being a disease and there’s a lot of good reasons to call it a disease There’s a lot of good reasons why I continue to use that language the biggest of all is that understanding that it’s not a choice addiction is definitely not a choice and so when we label it as a disease, it helps us to make better decisions on how to deal with someone on how to treat it and all that kind of stuff and it helps to reduce the stigma which means a lot more people get help which means a lot more families are more compassionate and willing to help someone and that is much needed thing when dealing with addiction, but the truth of it is, it’s just a little bit more complicated than that and you know, I’ve put a lot of thought into doing this video I’ve been really hesitant about it not sure If I want to come out and just confuse the whole situation all up or not, but I’ve decided in the end that I really want to get my opinion out there because understanding the differences in all these things is going to help you make better more strategic decisions about how to fight addiction and you know our mission here is to keep you five steps ahead of addiction at all times and to do that, I want you to understand it inside and out. So here’s my theory on the whole thing. I do think addiction usually starts with a choice to ingest a substance, engage in a behavior, do something but the way the brain responds to that choice is different in some people than it is in others and it’s not a person’s choice how their brain responds to a behavior or a chemical or substance, so addiction is definitely not a choice although sometimes a choice can be the beginning point for where it turns into a disorder so I think addiction is a starts with a little choice and the way the brain starts responding to that choice and that becomes a disorder because addiction really is about obsession You hear it said all the time in recovery meetings and from therapists and we say “addiction is a thought disorder” it’s about the way that someone’s thinking being very different or abnormal or sort of off spectrum, because people with addiction don’t respond to the consequences of their choice and under normal conditions when the consequences get big enough we stop doing whatever it is that they’re doing but when you’re dealing with an addiction, it just doesn’t work that way Now if your addictive disorder involves using substances like drugs and alcohol that can then lead to the disease of chemical dependency because when you use those drugs long enough it begins to change the way that your brain operates and I do have a lot of videos on that if you would like to hear all that nerdy science for yourself. So far you can see we’re going from choice to disorder which can lead to the disease of chemical dependency but I Think it’s really important here to pull apart the pieces between addiction the disorder and chemical dependency the disease Even up until recently in the diagnostic statistical manual which is like the big book that we use to diagnose all kinds of mental health illnesses and disorders it labels addiction doesn’t call it addiction doesn’t use that word chemical dependency was the term Now I think chemical dependency is actually can be the result or the symptom of or a disease process of a larger problem, because if you’re obsessively using this substance for long enough your brain changes and then you begin to need that substance for your brain to function right and then now you have the disease of chemical dependency but here’s why I say chemical dependency is not addicition because we can treat chemical dependency fairly easily when you go in and you detox someone off a substance and you get them down and keep them off, their brain goes back to normal So you can treat and heal that disease but guess what? That obession, craving, desire can stay there even after you’ve fixed the chemical dependency portion We all know people that have been clean and sober for long periods of time and they go back out there and use. Number one, the question is why in the world did you go back out there and use it’s because you have an addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, whatever it is Once you do that you can reactivate the chemical dependency in your brain So I guess it’s all complicated Why is it important to pull apart these pieces? It’s important that you understand that just treating chemical dependency does not cure addiction. That’s the main reason that I decided to come out with this video because so many people and families feel like if they can get detoxed if they can get the drug out of their system and their brain back to functioning normal then they’ve got this thing nailed and here’s what we know that is absolutely not true, think about it why is it that we treat a disease after the detox part. why is it that we would treat a disease with therapy? Is it possible to talk someone out of a disease? No, it’s really not. Is it possible to talk to someone and help them through and help them learn to think differently and make choices differently yes it is. why is it that if it’s just a disease of chemical dependency would we send people to 12-step meetings would people get better through going to church? you see that doesn’t make sense. Those things, therapy, 12-step meetings, religion, church, all of those other things could help the person realign that thought disorder which is essentially the addiction So the biggest point here from this video that you really need to take home is to separate chemical dependency which is sort of like a symptom of addictive disorder If you’re still not convinced, think of it this way there are lots of things other than drugs and alcohol that other people get addicted to right? Sex, shopping, gambling, you know all of that other stuff. Exercise even. And without that chemical introduction, you can see that there’s some predictable disorder going on here What about the issue of is it a moral failure or sin? Well you know, addiction is definitely not a moral failure or sin I mean come on, lots of great people from lots of great families develop addictions but here’s a little truth for you, this might be one of those hard truths to swallow Addiction leads to a symptom which is a moral failure. People that are addicted to drugs and alcohol often make decisions that aren’t very moral, like how they treat the people around them like stealing and lying and manipulating without this disorder, this person that has it would never make So i’m not saying that this person is morally bad or sinful. I’m saying that this disorder leads you to make morally bad decisions. I mean think of it. A lot of what happens in therapy and in 12- step is the healing of those relationships. it’s teaching people how to get back their integrity, how to make right decisions, how to know when they’re being dishonest with themselves and the people around them. Essentially, one of the symptoms that we’re working on is the ability to make moral good social decisions it’s the ability to heal your relationships and maintain and carry on good relationships So that is waht addiction is and that is how you treat addiction. Now remember that’s separate from chemical dependency. Now I know this may be complicated and a little frustrating for you to hear and I probably wouldn’t have gotten in there and muddied up all the waters had I not thought it’s really important for you. Primarily, so that you understand what the treatment for addiction really is Now just in case, I’ve left you thoroughly confused or you just want to understand a little more about what I”m telling you, I’m going to link up here to a playlist which includes some videos from some of the top scientists out there working on this issue. To help explain it to you even better than I can

8 comments

  1. 🔖To NERD OUT even more about the science and psychology of addiction, watch this next 👉 https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaaJWwIpP_zYmWk3zZD0vtCG_rI3ebeh3

  2. I was listening to this and my SO heard about half and agreed with much of the info. He has been free from alcohol for 3 years and 3 months clean from a drug relapse. He would never act the way he did if he wasn't using. We are working on it together as much as we can.

  3. I think addioton is like self harm a "syntome" to something bigger? Het can't we be 100% on this point say i dont know. But people need helpt. So does it matter? Most people face to face say no it does not matter. And we give it a name what it is when we really know…?

    We did first also think of someone did cut there self it is out of pain.
    And we know that more men get a addioton and women harm. Mabye i'm think to feel but i see a line?

    Self harm give also dopamine al that like drugs. Drugs also harm your body.
    People try escape mental pain in a way.

    We also take a pain killer if we broke something?

    In hospital they have a rule that they don't say why and stuff if they don't 100% sure.
    Look at the human. That someone did something stupid to come there is not something that they focus on.

    Why do we in this health place have other line's? I ask myself we only know it is there and people die without help?

  4. I see your videos pretty good videos caught my attention have counselors that I have seen and work with we are not on the same page you seem pretty good at your counseling I wanted to see if I can consultation with you to talk about my problems my addiction I havve some things that had happened to me in the last few years. I have lost my son and other things that would be cool if I would be able to talk with you about what's going. I am 48 years old I am an older man I have enough knowledge that I should be able to help myself but sometimes I'm not that strong that's why I'm trying to reach out to you I am pretty nervous talking to you about this I am embarrassed about the situation that's going on in my life but I need someone to talk to thank you. Detroit Michigan

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