Hello, and welcome to Turtleboy Sports! If you find yourself reading this blog, it is either because:
1. You are one of our massively intelligent, physically attractive and extremely level-headed regular readers or
2. This link has been shared to a thread where you simply cannot stop obnoxiously insisting that drug addiction is a DISEASE and anyone who believes otherwise is an insensitive idiot, and someone wanted to set you straight with FACKS, instead of emotional bullshit.
If you are the latter, please be aware that the person who linked you here is exhausted by your nonstop virtue signaling and therefore has passed the torch to me, in the hopes that you’ll at least shut the fuck up for the five to ten minutes it takes to read this.
I’m not a medical or scientific expert, but I am practically an expert in triggering ultra-woke queefarinos like you:
Even in the Turtleboy Comments section, from time to time, does some butthurt half-wit feel compelled to cry out, “ERMAHGAWD BUT IT’S A DISEASE”.
So I’m pretty well versed in the core points that make up the “addiction is a disease” fallacy, and more than happy to break it down for you, with FACKS.
1.”Doctors, the AMA and the government call it a disease, so obviously it is one.”
Well, first of all, not all doctors concur that addiction is a disease. The American Medical Association (AMA) did, in fact proclaim alcoholism to be a “disease” in 1956 – however, it was the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) that proclaimed all addiction to in fact, be a “disease” nearly 50 years later. They may have a slight bias built right in to the name. The AMA did follow suit and label addiction a “brain disease” – 6 years later in 2017, but the DSM clearly labels it as “disorder”, mainly because, as by definition:
A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of part or all of an organism, and that is not due to any external injury. Diseases are often construed as medical conditions that are associated with specific symptoms and signs. A disease may be caused by external factors such as pathogens or by internal dysfunctions. For example, internal dysfunctions of the immune system can produce a variety of different diseases, including various forms of immunodeficiency, hypersensitivity, allergies and autoimmune disorders.
Wouldn’t ya know, a drug isn’t a pathogen, and doesn’t qualify as an internal dysfunction. In fact, as a growing number of those in the medical and scientific communities are contending, drug addiction is a side effect of an otherwise healthy brain doing what brains do – responding to, and learning from, stimulation of the pleasure-reward system.
Taking a blissfully misguided short cut to fast track a natural process the brain achieves through rewarding social interaction and activity doesn’t mean you are ill, it means you are short-sighted. Sorry. Yes, smoking can cause lung cancer, or unprotected sex can spread STDS. But you can end up with lung cancer without smoking a day in your life, or fuck your entire college campus raw dog and somehow walk away without even a sniffle. Malignant tumors don’t just stop growing, however, when you decide to quit smoking. Nor does syphilis magically clear up the minute you decide to join a convent. Mystically, as soon as you stop using drugs, the symptoms of addiction disappear.
Besides, let’s all stay mindful, the medical community has been pretty all over the place throughout history with its stance on mind-altering substances.
2. “Yeah…but…drugs change your brain, man. It’s science. Maybe it starts with a choice, but once you’re addicted, there is no choice because it’s a brain disease.”
Ok, yes. Drugs do change your brain. And I do understand why this one feels so convincing. After all, you can easily pull up images of brain scans like this:
Irrefutable evidence! Case closed, that’s an altered brain. Right?
Well, not so much. Drugs change your brain, and so does literally every other experience in your life, from the moment that you are born. A disease requires a pathogen, or internal dysfunction, remember? Brain changes in addicts in does not constitute a dysfunction. It’s a typical, healthy brain function. Whenever we practice, do or think anything enough, the brain changes – different regions and neuronal pathways are grown or strengthened, and new connections are made; various areas of the brain become more or less active depending upon how much you use them, and this becomes the norm in your brain – but it changes again as you adjust how much you use those brain regions depending on what you choose to think and do. This is a process which continues throughout your entire life, there is nothing abnormal about it. It’s called “neuroplasticity”, and it’s a completely typical neurological and biochemical process that occurs over a lifetime.
In his book The Mind and The Brain, UCLA psychiatrist and expert on treating patients with obsessive compulsive disorder Jeffrey Schwartz scanned the brains of London taxi drivers and compared their brains to non-taxi drivers. He discovered a marked difference in scans, not only between the drivers and non-drivers, but also between the more experienced and less experienced drivers.
“There it was: the more years a man had been a taxi driver, the smaller the front of his hippocampus and the larger the posterior. “Length of time spent as a taxi driver correlated positively with volume in…the right posterior hippocampus,” found the scientists. Acquiring navigational skills causes a “redistribution of gray matter in the hippocampus” as a driver’s mental map of London grows larger and more detailed with experience.”
The AMA has yet to announce a disease that forces people to drive taxis until they die.
3.”Addiction is a genetic condition, and some diseases are genetically predisposed.”
You’re right. Genetic influence and third-party disposition do generate some diseases. But which one sounds more reasonable to you?
“So sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Ron. I heard about the lupus. Let me know if I can help.”
“So sorry to hear about your diagnosis, Ron. I heard about your compulsion to stick poison filled needles in your arm. Let me know if I can help.”
Although research has suggested that may be a genetic predisposition that makes some people more susceptible to addiction, no so-called “addiction gene” has been discovered to date. People get so blinded by genetic theories (read: THEORIES) that they can’t take in the facts all around them. Becoming – and remaining – addicted has a lot more to do with the groups people come from and associate with, and from their beliefs and expectations about alcohol or drugs, than from their biological makeup. How often have you heard someone say, “I’m more fun when I drink”, or something to that effect? Why are some types of people more likely to smoke than others based on work environment -i.e. about half of waitresses and car salesmen smoke, compared with about a tenth of lawyers and doctors?
4. “Nobody chooses to be an addict!”
I really, really want a brand new Toyota Corolla (judge me, I don’t give a fuck – those cars are indestructible and the new ones are loaded with options). The problem is, if I were to go out and buy one, I’d blow literally all of my savings. But suppose I did choose to buy one, I’d have the brand new car I wanted…and I’d be broke with one pissed off husband. I wouldn’t be choosing to be broke, per say, that would be insane. But it would be a (pretty obvious) byproduct of my choice.
How many light, social heroin users do you know? What are the benefits vs. risks of regularly sucking down a crack rock or two? Sure, nobody wants to end up giving discount blowies behind the Wendy’s dumpster to support a 2-gram a day habit – but I’d say the best way to avert that fate may be to steer clear of habit-forming substances. You have less control over a car accident than you do drug addiction, statistically speaking.
And if addiction is not a choice, no longer being addicted surely seems to be.
In 1974, sociologist Lee Robbins conducted an exhaustive study of US soldiers addicted to heroin returning home from Vietnam. While in Vietnam, 20% of servicemen became addicted to heroin, with only around 7 percent used heroin after returning to the U.S., and only about 1-2 percent had a relapse, even briefly, into addiction. 95% of addicted soldiers stopped using on their own, by choice.
There’s also the famous “Rat Pack” experiment, in which researchers from Simon Fraiser University observed caged, isolated rats administer themselves ever increasing—and often deadly—doses of morphine when no alternatives were available. Yet, when these rats were given a mate and alternatives to drugs they stopped taking them.
And as recently as 2013, Harvard University psychologist Gene Heyman found that just about 10 percent of people who use drugs end up addicted, and only around 15 percent of regular alcohol drinkers become alcoholics. He also suggests that around 80 percent of addicts overcome their addiction on their own by the age of 30, because the demands of their adult life, like keeping a job and home, parenting, are incompatible with drug use and alternatively stimulate the reward center of the brain, thus making drug and alcohol use less appealing, and offering incentive to remain abstinent.
Sure, its true that there is substantial evidence that addicts often relapse. But most studies on addiction are conducted on patients in treatment, and this skews the population sample. Suggestively, this is the minority.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do understand the reason for the “disease” shift. Addiction is pretty clearly a major societal issue, especially the opiate variety. Calling it a disease removed the stigma so the socially acceptable response could move from kicking a smelly old drunkard out of the way on the street, to wanting to get him to rehab,….or something. But labels stick. Labeling someone with a disease has actually been proven to cause the symptoms of the label to persist. The more often someone hears they have a disease they will never be cured of, the more they tend to believe it. It offers a “loophole” for accountability – both for the addict as an individual, and society as a whole. The reality, if you think about it, is even less stigmatizing than the “disease” bullshit – we are all, through biochemistry and sociological factors, vulnerable to the lures of addiction. And likewise, we are all biologically capable of rewriting those ingrained learned habits, and replacing them with something far less likely to kill you in the bathroom of a 7/11.
Do you agree? Did I miss something? Do you want to kick me in the teeth? Keep this conversation going in the comments, or share to someone who needs to smarten the hell up!
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