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“Addiction is it a Disease or a Choice” Research Report

By: Brittany Bailey

Date: 07/05/19

Fenton, Ted, and Reinout W. Wiers. “Free Will, Black Swans and Addiction.”
Neuroethics 10.1 (2017): 157-165. Academic Search Complete. ProQuest. Web.
5 July 2019.
This article describes “addiction are bad habits that can be broken, provided that
people are motivated to change” (Fenton). Choice or free will can over come
anyone’s bad influences from genes and environments. Brain changes related to
addiction are based on people’s choices. Addiction is related to choices that are
potentially beneficial in the short run, at the expense of long-term positive
outcomes, and impulses known as delay-discounting. Individuals show changes
in the systems underlying habit, salience-processing, self-insight, increased
negative affect, and stress-sensitivity. This is called the dark side of addiction,
which has led the individual there by their own free will of choice. Free will are
the related concepts of self-control and the ability to forego direct temptations for
Hardcastle, Valerie Gray, and Cheshire Hardcastle. “Addiction, Chronic Illness, and
Responsibility.” Ideas y Valores 66 (2017): ProQuest. PROQUESTMS. 14 June
In this article Valerie states, “addiction is nothing more than free will.” She
discusses how free will is just our ability as humans to choose effectively and
adaptively in an ever-changing environment. Addicts need to become
responsible for their actions because they could have elected no to use or abuse
drugs. Addictive behavior is voluntary and not a disease and sometimes it’s even
rational. A different way of thinking should be highly considered, when it comes
to complex chronic illnesses, such as; heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.
Addiction isn’t considered a disease in such list of chronic illnesses and never
has been. Addiction is basic human capacities for behavioral choice. Current
treatment protocols assume exactly the sort of free will and responsibility that’s
been argued against. It’s assumed, if the addict uses again they weren’t ready to
stop. When, if the addict really, truly, sincerely wanted to stop abusing drugs, with
some help, or not, an addict would. There’s no real way to treat addiction or
providing ongoing managed care because ultimately, it’s up to the person to
choose when, by their very own free will. The person chose to use drugs and
chose to continue the use of drugs, so the person can choose to stop using drugs
just as easily.
Kowalski, Kathiann M. “Addiction Is a Disease.” Current Health Kids 34.2 (2010): 16-18.
Academic Search Complete. ProQuest. PROQUESTMS. Web. 14 June 2019.
Kowalski does a great job touch all points of drug addiction being a disease. She
defines addiction as, “a condition that causes a constant need to use drugs.”
Cravings happen even though there are often bad consequences to doing drugs.
Addiction can happen with or without physical dependence. Individuals, who are
physically dependent on drugs will become ill, when they stop taking drugs.
Teens tend to have a higher addiction rate and risks because their brain hasn’t
fully developed. The younger you are, when you start using drugs, the more
problems there are to come. Each person’s risks of this disease are different, but
some factors play a part such as; family history of addictions, stress, abuse, and
other traumas. If an individual is already experiencing depression, anxiety, and
other psychological disorders, using drugs just make the disease worse. Kowalski
states, “The disease of addiction, traps a person from having the best life, but
only that person can achieve a better life, if they’re not trapped by addiction.”
Leshner, Alan I. “Addiction is a Brain Disease – and it matters.” Corrections Forum 8.2
(1999): 55-57. Academic Search Complete. ProQuest. PROQUESTMS. Web. 14
June 2019.
Leshner’s forum discusses addiction as being a brain disease, due to some
idiosyncratic mechanism of action. All drugs of abuse have common effects;
either directly or indirectly, in a single pathway deep within the brain of the
mesolimbic reward system. Activating this system appears to be a common
element in what keeps drug users continuously abusing/taking drugs. Not
considered a uniqueness to any one drug; all addictive substances affect this
circuit, within the brain. Not only does acute drug use modify brain function in
very critical ways, but prolonged use causes pervasive changes in brain function
and persist long after a person stops taking the drug(s). The addicted brain is
different from the nonaddicted brain, due to changes in the brain metabolic
activity, receptor availability, gene expression, and responsiveness to
environmental cues. Addiction is tied to changes in the brain structure and
function is what makes it a brain disease. A metaphorical switch in the brain
seems to be thrown after prolonged drug use. Initially, drug use is a voluntary
behavior, but as the switch is thrown, a person moves into the state of addiction,
which is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use.
Pittaway, Kim. “Is Addiction a Choice?” Chatelaine 73.6 (2000): 26. Academic Search
Complete. ProQuest. PROQUESTMS. Web. 14 June 2019.
Pittaway writes, “by blaming biology, it seems that the addict is getting a free
ride.” This article discusses how biology has given addiction a false name and
associated the word disease with addiction, to give easier treatment and
punishment to those individuals suffering from addiction. Individuals, who choose
to abuse drugs, would stay sober if they found an outlet to their addiction. It
would keep their minds focused on something else for a change, and it would
make a definite impact. Also, written in this article discusses, the United States
rejecting chemical detox treatments that allow addicts to skip over withdrawal. If
we try and scare addicts sober, it doesn’t make it too easy for them to get clean.
Exploring the possibilities, of finding new healthier pleasures might be a more
effective way to help addicts make better choices. The United States isn’t ready
to give up chemical pleasure, which causes addicts to quit, when they decide to,
and find different support programs that help them keep deciding to quit, when
they want to. It doesn’t matter which option you pursue such as; treatment
programs, quit on your own, or rehab facilities, they all have about the same
success rate. It’s not easy, because habit and crippling regret of the choices the
individual made in the past, all complicate the struggle, but it can be done and
willingly by choice.
Satel, Sally. “Blame Addiction on Personality-Not the Brain.” Cape Times, May 13 2016,
Academic Search Complete. ProQuest. Web. 5 July 2019.
Satel discusses addiction being a choice and not a disease. Addiction occurs,
due to the circuitry involved in memory, anticipation, and pleasure. Some people
consider addiction a form of learning because people discover that a substance
or activity such as, gambling helps them assuage pain or elevate their mood. So,
they form a strong attachment to it. There’s no reinforcement or punishment that
can alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease and recovery isn’t possible. However,
addiction can be recovered from such as; physicians and pilots with drug or
alcohol addiction, when they are reported to their oversight boards, they’re
monitored closely for several years. These individuals are suspended for a
lengthy time and return to work on probation, but under strict supervision. If they
don’t comply with the set rules, they will lose their jobs, income, and status. So,
there’s no coincidence their recovery rates are so high. Addiction is a choice
that’s why people choose to engage in self destructive behavior.
Smith, David E, MD, F.A.S.A.M., F.A.A.C.T., Dorothy R. Lee, and Leigh Dickerson
Davidson. “Health Care Equality and Parity for Treatment of Addictive Disease.”
Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 42.2 (2010): 121-6. Academic Search Complete.
ProQuest. PROQUESTMS. Web. 14 June 2019.
This entry discuses substance abuse being the underlying cause of the health
issues faced in the United States, which has major impact on our nation’s health
care system and economy. Recently enacted parity legislation mandated benefits
for addiction and mental health treatment to be provided on an equal footing such
as those individuals for treatment for physical health issues. In mainstream
medicine, addiction has been accepted as a brain disease, and associated with
many other medical disorders. Early intervention, treatment, and additional
training provides extra ordinary expense outcomes, while parity for addiction
treatment, has become policy at the federal level. Great challenges lie ahead in
funding access, facilities, and training, as well as, redirecting societal perceptions
and legislated penalties. Also, prescription drug use and the problematic issue in
addiction medicine and public policy is an ever-increasing role. Diverted
prescription medications often are more readily available than heroin in illicit drug
markets and opioids are the most commonly diverted drug. Nearly one third of
individuals, who began abusing drugs in the past year, reported their first drug
was a prescription drug and nineteen percent reported that it was a prescription
opioid. The major concern is the financial cost to help individuals suffering from
this disease.
Smith, Kyle. “Addiction Is Not a Disease A Neuroscientist Argues that we’re Treating
Addicts Wrong-and that there’s a Better Way to Get Clean.” New York Post. New
York, N.Y., 12 July 2015: 34. Academic Search Complete. ProQuest.
PROQUESTMS. Web. 14 June 2019.
In this article Smith does well describing Lewis’s reasoning and thoughts about
why society calls addiction and disease. Neuroscientist Dr. Lewis states, “the
disease theory has powerful force behind it, such as money!” Addiction as a
disease is in some ways a thoroughly American idea. Lewis states, “calling
addiction a disease just ties together how the United States approach medicine,
with precisely defined targets and a definitive program to fight it, as well as,
opening up profit opportunities from sea to shining sea.” Smith writes, if addiction
is a disease why do most addictions end spontaneously, without treatment? Why
did seventy five percent of heroin addicted Vietnam vets kick the drug, when they
returned home? Addiction is not a disease it’s a nasty habit that can be broken,
when an individual chooses to kick it. It’s hard to picture a real and true brain
disease, like schizophrenia simply going away because someone decided not to
have it any longer. If labeling addiction as a disease; the violence, racism,
infidelity, and so on should be labeled as diseases and treated as such. Putting a
label on addiction, as a disease is just a way more businesses become profitable.
If addiction was labeled and treated as a nasty habit, there would be no money to
be made and doctors, rehabilitation facilities, and pharmaceutical companies
would lose money. So, it’s more profitable to give addiction the label titling it a