Addiction can be difficult to define, and when asked people tend to struggle to explain what the term means, both itself and how it affects those struggling with it. The NHS defines addiction as not having control of taking, using, or doing something. This action is often to the point of being harmful to you.

Addictions may be commonly associated with substances, but that’s not the only thing that has the potential to become an addiction. An addiction can range from substances to actions, and even behaviours or habits, including gambling, the internet, and work.

is addiction a choice or a disease scaled

What Is Addiction: A Choice or a Disease?

Many people may believe that addiction is a choice, but this is not correct. Addiction is medically considered a brain disease, that can lead to physical consequences and a decreased quality of life – much like any other disease. This misunderstanding that an established addiction is still a choice contributes to ongoing stigma and leads to excess suffering or feelings of guilt.

This common misconception comes from the idea that the first use of a substance is an active “choice” that is made. However, once dependency has been established the brain then becomes chemically altered by addiction, developing into a chronic brain disorder. Behaviours then become compulsive and may continue despite negative and harmful consequences.

When Does Habit Become Addiction?

Someone may suffer from addiction if:

  • Feelings of denial, claiming they don’t have a problem.
  • Dishonesty in order to avoid consequences.
  • Feeling unable to go without the addiction.
  • Trying to quit but feeling unable to.
  • Feeling more in control or like yourself when you’re using rather than when sober.
  • Compulsively seeking out the addiction.
  • Disregarding consequences, no matter who it affects.

The Effect of Addiction

Managing an addiction can add strain to all aspects of your life. If you’re managing an addiction you could expect to see your work suffer and your relationships may be severely damaged in the process. These consequences will only expand as the psychological and physical effects of this disorder take root.

Often, addiction will develop from attempts to suppress underlying issues or stress. Although some studies suggest that the risk of addiction may increase depending on environmental factors, being around other people with addictions, or even genetics.

Getting Help to Overcome an Addiction

Addiction may not be a choice, but getting help is. Make the choice to turn over a new leaf today and get in touch with your local rehab centre for support. We here at New Leaf Recovery offer support, and a range of treatment programmes. We believe that addiction is a treatable condition, get in touch today through our contact form to get started on your journey to recovery.