111 How-Do-I-Define-Addiction

  • Addiction is a bio-psycho-social disease.
  • “I think of a triangle where the three points are the drug, the person and the environment.”
  • Accepting addiction as a disease is not enough for taking responsibility for one’s recovery.

The opinion I have made for last 20 years in the field of counseling is that addiction is a complex illness involving multiple dimensions.

Following are the list of those:

  • The effects of the drug itself
  • The response of the brain to the drug – with resultant neurochemical and biological changes after prolonged exposure
  • The hereditary and genetic makeup of the individual – there is strong evidence that genetic factors predispose an individual to addiction and increase the person’s vulnerability
  • Psychological factors
  • Socio-cultural factors

In order to simplify the message, I think of a triangle where the 3 points are the person (biology; psychology) , the drug and the environment (price; availability; peer influences; education; occupation).

In this way, according to a previous definition, addiction is a bio-psycho-social disease. In my opinion there is fourth factor as well, and no doubt that it also has a spiritual dimension (dishonesty, selfishness, the moral and spiritual consequences of the lifestyle).

Accepting and Understanding addiction as a disease is not a excuse for taking responsibility for one’s recovery. It is a primary , chronic , progressive and potentially fatal disease.

Alcoholics Anonymous itself has always spoken of an illness but there is a greater understanding now of how the brain’s reward centers and neural circuits is hijacked by long exposure to significant drug levels.

For further reading on this subject I recommend “Harmful Drininking (the mystery unfolds)” the booklet writtten by Dr. sadaqat ali