$20 off your first month Identify & address the underlying causes of chronic health conditions
JOIN NOW

Welcome friends of Aleena K. |

Article

Addiction: A Doctor’s Perspective on a Controversial Debate

Sunday, June 30th 2024 10:00am 3 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

As a functional medicine doctor, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact of addiction on individuals and their loved ones. The question of whether addiction should be treated as a medical condition or a moral failing is a complex and deeply personal one. In this article, I’ll explore the scientific facts surrounding addiction and offer my perspective on this ongoing debate.

The Science of Addiction

To understand the debate, it’s essential to grasp the science behind addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It’s a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and personal history.

  1. Genetics and Environment:
    • Research has shown that genetics can account for 40-60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction (1).
    • Environmental factors, such as early exposure to drugs, stress, and trauma, can also increase the risk of developing an addiction (2).
  2. Brain Changes:
    • Addiction causes changes in the brain’s reward system, making it difficult for an individual to control their drug use (3).
    • Over time, the brain adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve the same effect, a phenomenon known as tolerance (4).
  3. Relapse:
    • Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, with relapse rates similar to those of other chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension (5).
    • The risk of relapse is influenced by various factors, including the type of drug, the length of addiction, and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders (6).

The Moral Failing Argument

The idea that addiction is a moral failing stems from the belief that individuals with substance use disorders lack willpower or moral character. This perspective often leads to stigmatization and discrimination against those struggling with addiction.

  1. Lack of Understanding:
    • The moral failing argument is often based on a lack of understanding of the complex nature of addiction (7).
    • It fails to acknowledge the biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development of addiction.
  2. Stigma and Discrimination:
    • The moral failing perspective can lead to stigma and discrimination against individuals with substance use disorders, making it more difficult for them to seek help and recover (8).
    • Stigmatizing attitudes can also prevent individuals from receiving the medical care and support they need to overcome addiction.

The Medical Condition Argument

Treating addiction as a medical condition recognizes the complex interplay of biological, environmental, and personal factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of substance use disorders.

  1. Evidence-Based Treatment:
    • Viewing addiction as a medical condition allows for the development and implementation of evidence-based treatment strategies, such as medication-assisted treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy (9).
    • These treatments have been shown to be effective in helping individuals overcome addiction and maintain long-term recovery.
  2. 2. Reduction of Stigma:
    • Recognizing addiction as a medical condition can help reduce stigma and discrimination against individuals with substance use disorders (10).
    • This, in turn, can make it easier for individuals to seek help and receive the support they need to recover.

My Perspective

As a functional medicine doctor, I believe that addiction should be treated as a medical condition. This perspective acknowledges the complex nature of addiction and the need for evidence-based, comprehensive treatment strategies.

Members Only Content

To continue reading please subscribe to WellnessPlus by Dr. Jess MD

Be your own best doctor with our comprehensive suite of online health coaching tools.

MENU

JOIN NOW

$20 off your first month

Identify & address the underlying causes of chronic health conditions

JOIN NOW