Addiction and recovery resources article index
Addiction articles index

Addiction & recovery resources. Articles on alcoholism, drug abuse & substance dependence. Information on rehabilitation, detoxification & strategies. Suited to alcoholics, addicts, friends & those interested in the disease of addiction

The disease concept

Substance Addiction has been recognized "officially" as a disease for many years now, but there is still a great deal of ignorance on the subject -even amongst the medical profession.

Addicts/alcoholics (people tend to separate the two, but from here on in I will use the term "addict" to cover the broad range of substance abusers) are seen as weak people with no will-power.

Want to know what will-power is?

It is waking up in the morning, so nauseous that you race to the bathroom and don't know which end to use first! After that initial wake-up purge, you then make your way shivering and shaking into the kitchen and drink an open, flat, warm beer that has a cigarette butt floating in it. Or because you are shaking so much, you drink that warm white wine that has been sitting out all night, through a straw since you can't hold a glass! You do this, choking back the bile that is rising in your throat, because you know that the only way to begin functioning again on some sort of level is to try and build up the alcohol in your system before you take a seizure.

Do you think drinking methylated spirits at 5am in the morning is an easy thing to do?

I have known many addicts whose veins in their arms and legs are so damaged, that they inject themselves in their eyeballs. Because going without their "hit" is a far worse option.

Addicts have plenty of will-power.......'s just focused in the wrong direction. Recovery teaches them us to refocus energy.

Back to the disease concept. Addiction is classified as a disease because it meets the criteria of all other terminal diseases:

- It has pattern of symptoms which are similar across all types of substance abuse

- It is a chronic condition. It doesn't go away.

- It is progressive. Addiction only gets worse with continued use, and ends with death.

- The person is subject to relapse. In Australia, 66% of addicts who are lucky to live long enough to make it to detox will eventually die as a direct result of the disease.

- It is treatable. Here's the good news, while substance addiction is a terminal illness, its progression can be arrested at almost any stage. But if you are seeking treatment, it is of the utmost importance that you gain medical advice. Sudden withdrawal, even from "socially acceptable" drugs such as alcohol, can cause death through seizures and coma.

It is crucial that you consult with a medical practitioner that understands addiction and withdrawal. Some well meaning, but uneducated doctors will prescribe large amounts of unsuitable medications that can lead to cross-addiction. This happened to me at one stage, and made a difficult situation worse. If you are addicted to one drug, the likelihood of becoming addicted to others is extremely high.

Wherever possible, detoxification is best carried out in a detox unit, where there is 24 hour patient care. There are a number of these units around the world, and in some cases (especially in Australia) there is no charge for this care.

When world governments begin to understand that the cost in providing this care free of charge is far outweighed by the benefits to society, we will begin to see an incredible drop in poverty, violence and divorce. The cost in providing this care will also be offset by the decrease in need of other hospitalization. 1 in 3 hospital beds in Australia are taken up by people with conditions that can be directly linked to drug abuse. At best, the world health systems overall are only currently providing band-aid solutions to one of the greatest scourges of mankind.

Are you thinking of getting help for yourself or a loved one?... do it now ... for tomorrow may be too late. 

If you had terminal cancer, would you do anything about it? 

Substance addiction is a far worse disease in my opinion -it not only destroys the person, but everyone around them.

To those who helped me all those years ago -doctors, nurses, friends and strangers - even though I may not have been appreciative at the time..... my sincerest thank you. My life means something now.

Addiction is a disease, not just a state of mind.

Michael Bloch

Copyright information.... This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety along with the authors' name and web site link. This copyright statement must be also be included. (c) 2001 - 2007 Michael Bloch, World Wide,. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2001 - 2007 Taming the Beast -

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