Sunday, October 7, 2007

Social Issue #2

Despite repeated conformation from various reputable medical sources that drug and alcohol addiction have genetic components that classify them as a disease, public perception is still divided on this issue. I am asserting an effort to align public opinion with the reality of the disease concept of addiction.

As with any issue worth considering there are two sides to the perception of addiction, those who consider addicts and alcoholics ‘bad” people, and those who consider them sick people. Medical sources such as the American Psychiatric Association, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, are in agreement that addiction is a disease. In contrast, I have yet to be able to locate any reputable organization that claims addiction is not a disease, through my research I have found that it is only individual psychiatrists and psychologists which quite probably are working from their own biases and motives that make this argument. The core issue debated is whether or not addicts and alcoholics are making the choice to pick up a drink or a drug or are compelled to do so by biological factors. That this issue is even discussed adds to the stigma surrounding it, stigma that doesn’t exist around other diseases like cancer, which is unequivocally viewed as a sickness the sufferer is powerless over having. This stigma still exists obviously in part simply due to information that is circulated telling people addiction is not a disease, but is probably compounded by the side effects of drug and alcohol addiction. From an outside and uninformed view, it sometimes seems as though the addict is consistently choosing to poison themselves and because of this is making disruptive/illegal/socially unacceptable choices. In addition the standard treatment for the disease is unlike any other, the most effective being cognitive therapy in combination with 12 step groups, there is no pill or procedure to cure addiction. As I stated earlier I feel that those claiming that addiction is not a disease are working from their own personal biases and motives rather than medical fact, but I suppose I am too to an extent. It is important to consider both sides of the issue, and valuable to have an understanding of the opposing viewpoint in my efforts to change them.

Sources that claim addiction is not a disease
http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90688&page=1
http://www.slate.com/id/2171131/nav/tap3/
http://sciencethatmatters.com/archives/6
http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/p0210pt.html - this guy is an idiot

Sources that claim addiction is a disease
http://www.psych.org/ -within this site there are numerous articles outlining disease
http://www.nida.nih.gov/
http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/
http://www.nida.nih.gov/about/welcome/aboutdrugabuse/chronicdisease/ - explanation of biological aspects of disease
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction - talks about terminology, how it adds to confusion about the disease

1 comment:

Liz said...

What are you considering for format?