Do we really need to keep arguing about choice?

In response to the following post…

 

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Typically when we think of a habit, we think of a regularly practiced tendency that is difficult to give up. But there are other definitions of a “habit” such as it is a person’s “bodily condition”. So you are right, addiction is a habit. But the definition this post is implying isn’t the one that was intended when society adopted the term, “habit” in relation to addiction. A person who has an addiction to drugs or alcohol depends on such substances, and therefore habitually uses. It’s a bodily condition because the way drugs work in our bodies, they have the ability to chemically alter the rest of our body, including the way we are wired to think and act. And regardless of which definition you, or anyone applies to it, it does not negate the fact that addiction is a health issue.

For so long society has taught us to view addiction as a moral failing and “a poor choice” but society has done a really terrible job at backing that claim up with science, or any evidence for that matter. Addiction, or substance use disorder as referenced in the DSM5 –think of it as a dictionary for doctors and used for making diagnoses—backed by science- classifies addiction quite different from society’s collective, generalized viewpoint. I personally, prefer the science over generalizations, society’s definition of social norms or socially acceptable behavior, and completely irrelevant unsubstantiated claims- but that’s just me.

So now that we’ve established addiction is a health issue. Let’s address some other points in this post. Twice, the phrase, “addiction is a choice” appears. I think this should be repeated ….silently….in one’s head…until the phrases implications really sinks in. “Addiction is a choice” implies people wake up and decide, “today I’m going to become addicted to drugs”. I find that hard to believe and think anyone with a smidgen of intelligence would agree that of the millions addicted to drugs, most if not all, didn’t wake up and make a choice to be addicted. So now that we’ve let that sink in, let’s just stop with the “addiction is a choice”. It was false the first time it was said. It is still false now. And it’s going to be false ten minutes from now.

Let’s focus on something in this post that is true. Before the drugs or pills you did not have an addiction. This makes me giggle because that’s just logic. But what does this statement do to negate addiction as a health issue? Before 8 years ago I didn’t have anxiety. Before 5 years ago I didn’t have PTSD. Before 6 months ago, I didn’t have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Before yesterday I didn’t have a migraine. But things change, including health, and now I do. And it’s weird because I totally didn’t decide to get ANY of them. Weird.

Interestingly, I’ve been given prescriptions for some of my health inflictions and some of them have highly addictive qualities. (I happen to be fortunate to know quite a bit more than the average person about a solid percentage of medications. And further, to have a doctor who will spend a full hour with me addressing questions and consulting with my pharmacist. But I wonder how many people get that type or treatment. Because I know one too many people who became addicted from prescription drugs following necessary treatment).

Regardless, of treatment procedures or “weak minds” or lack or self-control, as referenced in this post. What makes it ok to devalue a human life? And what kind of human does that devaluing? Debate that. Because “choosing to debate the science of addiction without the expertise”…..<—-well that, just read that til it sinks in.

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3 thoughts on “Do we really need to keep arguing about choice?

  1. I do agree with part of that quote. Drug addiction is the result of a choice, many choices to keep taking a drug, resulting in eventual addiction. However, the person who wrote it has no love or compassion. Once a person becomes addicted (due to the unwise choice of taking drugs) it is very difficult to stop. The addict needs treatment and support. Also, some people, through genes and biology, are more likely to become addicts.

    If you are interested, I wrote a short essay called “The Positive and Negative Uses of Stigmatization.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/stigmatization/

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    1. Thanks for commenting Chris! In response to what you wrote, we think taking a drug initially is a choice, but choosing addiction….not so much. In all our years of working with those who have substance use disorder, waking up and deciding to become addicted isn’t something we’ve ever heard of.

      Further, we’d like to point out that 80% of opioid drug use in the US, stems from prescription drugs. Admittedly, not all those people probably had prescriptions, but that brings us to pointing out this false feeling of safety we have when it comes to prescriptions and the lack of education we, as well as doctors, have when it comes to prescribing and utilizing drugs.–I think we can do better. And I think if we did, we’d have less cases of addiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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