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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Addiction is not a disease

The general consensus in our society is that addiction is a disease. The general consensus also is that there is no such thing as a miracle.

How, then, can "victims" of alcoholism or drug addiction cure themselves, by themselves, without any traditional or scientific medical intervention? If not by a miracle, then by what?

It seems that one of the two above-noted consensus beliefs is incorrect. Either addiction is not a disease. Or miracles do, indeed, take place. Or, perhaps, both are wrong.

Read more of my thoughts here, in my latest Tri-City News column.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on July 2, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink

Comments

i think the correlation between disease and addiction is made because they dont know what else to call it. i would say that addiction is addiction and not a true disease. i do think that addiction is serious and needs to be adressed and in some sort of medical cappacity compared to criminal cappacity through charity dollars and not taxpayers dollars of course.

Posted by: howard roark | 2009-07-02 6:16:29 PM


The error in your reasoning is that you think people with addictions get "cured". They don't. Ask any recovering alcoholic and they will tell you that they will always be an alcoholic, even tho they may not have another drink for years.

Having said that, I most certainly do believe in miracles.

Posted by: Sean Reid | 2009-07-02 6:33:35 PM


There is no cure. You may stop aggravating the condition through faith or will power, but the condition will always exist. If the question is, will tax dollars or Doctors cure this "disease", the answer is no.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-02 6:37:11 PM


there are new treatments that think that the aa's idea that you are powerless to an addiction makes recovery harder. if you beleive that an addiction is so powerful then you will use that as an excuse to keep using. some treatments now think that you can cure or get over your addictions.
i am compassionate for these peoples problems BUT i am sick of paying for their recovery because of the 80-90 percent failure rate.
when there is a market for something, drugs, then there is a market and you cant fight that. meth is going nowhere. cocaine is going nowhere.
so throwing more of our hard earned money at them is fruitless.
i agree with terry and that this is a game of symantics. i dont think that addiction is a disease like cancer or heart disease, but for a user it may feel like they have no control.

Posted by: howard roark | 2009-07-02 6:51:55 PM


Actually both could be true.

Posted by: Pete | 2009-07-02 6:52:48 PM


Addiction is not a disease; there is no underlying pathology. Addiction can have health consequences, to be sure, and addressing those is part of the road to recovery, but they are secondary to the main problem: the person's compulsive nature and his susceptibility to irrational cravings. Like a bad temper, it is an attribute that can only be managed, not eliminated, and then only if the person cares to try.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-02 6:55:28 PM


addiction isn't a disease. addiction is a choice, albeit, a miserable one.

...and there are no miracles, only wills of iron, which many don't possess.

Posted by: shel | 2009-07-02 7:20:21 PM


"How, then, can 'victims' of alcoholism or drug addiction cure themselves, by themselves, without any traditional or scientific medical intervention? If not by a miracle, then by what?"

Exactly. And furthermore, a broken bone is not an injury. The fact that broken bones can heal without any traditional or scientific medical intervention proves that either a miracle took place or there was no injury to begin with.

So the next time someone with a broken leg says he has an 'injury', tell him to stop being such a pussy and shut up about it!

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-07-02 7:42:16 PM


Fact Check,

Just to play devil's advocate: do you think there is a difference between willing a disease to go away and the body's natural processes healing a wound or broken bone?

I can't exactly will my leg to heal, but I can (maybe) will myself out of an addiction.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-07-02 7:46:48 PM


I would say that addiction is a spiritual disease, that medical science cannot cure. We have all types of addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex, power (including the need to control others), money, hedonism, materialism and many others. My reference to spiritual has nothing to do with traditional or organised religions. It is rather a symptom of a society in decline due to the large number of addicts of one type or another. This can also be observed in the choice of role models such as Michael Jackson instead of people whose lives represent human greatness; Mother Teresa being an example. In any case, once again, any kind of government intervention can only make things worse.

As for miracles it depends on our definition of a miracle. I do believe in miracles, but I do not believe in waiting for or expecting a miracle. Actually each time I witnessed the birth of one of my children was a miracle in my book, so there you have it.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-02 8:12:15 PM


Sorry, since I should have written idols instead of role models.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-02 8:35:04 PM


Terrence,

"Just to play devil's advocate: do you think there is a difference between willing a disease to go away and the body's natural processes healing a wound or broken bone? I can't exactly will my leg to heal, but I can (maybe) will myself out of an addiction."

No, you cannot will youself out of an addiction. An addiction is a bio-physical condition that some people can learn to manage, but cannot eliminate. Someone, for example, with naturally brittle bones can learn how to minimize the risk of breaking them and someone with a pre-dispostition to develop certain diseases can sometimes learn how to minimize the risk of them developing. But in both cases there is an underlying bio-physical condition that cannot be willed away. The same is true for addicts.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-07-02 9:20:59 PM


My point is this: I don't believe that addiction is a disease. Those that do believe it is a disease either cannot make sense of basic facts (such as the evidence that, unlike all other diseases, addicts can cure themselves) or, in light of indisputable evidence that those suffering from the "disease" of addiction become cured with no apparent outside intervention, must, therefore, believe in miracles. If they continue to assert that addiction is a disease and, at the same time, assert that there is no such a thing as a miracle, they make no sense at all.

Posted by: Terry O'Neill | 2009-07-02 10:10:40 PM


Fact Check,

"No, you cannot will youself out of an addiction."

Ok, devil's advocate again: doesn't this beg the question against Terry, though? And against the people who claim to have willed themselves out of an addition? (I'm assuming there are people who say this.)

The disagreement looks something like this:

Terry claims you can will yourself out of an addiction; therefore, addiction is not a disease.

You claim you can't will yourself out of an addiction; therefore, addiction is a disease.

Personally, I'd like to think I could will myself out of a nicotine addiction. People have told me they've done it.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-07-02 11:47:39 PM


Semantics

Posted by: Lindy | 2009-07-03 12:59:18 AM


Terrence,

"Ok, devil's advocate again: doesn't this beg the question against Terry, though?"

Nope. If anyone is begging questions it is Terry. His most recent reply in this thread is just a reassertion of what he already said and ignores the arguments given in reply.

But further, there might be adicts who say they willed themselves to be "cured", but most don't. (And the ones who say it can be wrong, just as the rare few who say they willed themselves cured of cancer or AIDS are probably wrong too.) Most will say that they are still addicts even after they have become clean or sober. To think you are "cured" would mean, for example, you used to be addicted to alcohol, but now are not and so can drink occasionally without any more temptation to drink than anyone who never was an alcoholic. That's just not how it goes.

My answer is also not question begging because my reference to the bio-physical aspect of addiction is a reference to the well established medical facts of how bodies process and react to drugs and alcohol, including evidence of genetic predispositions to addictions.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2009-07-03 6:22:42 AM


Just one small fact: Sometimes, diseases go into spontaneous remission.

That doesn't count as a miracle, just an ordinary medical fact.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-07-03 8:08:20 AM


I would agree that most addicts will remain addicts, whether off the drug or not. Once a user gets off drugs, however, is the remaining addiction more physical or phychological or both? If anyone has any thoughts I'd be interested since my expertise does not quite fall within the realm of addiction.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-07-03 8:15:24 AM


Charles, to answer your question, the remaining dependence is largely psychological. I have heard some detox and smoking-cessation centres will first give you a small fix, followed by a mild electrical shock or some other unpleasant experience. They do this repeatedly, to the point where you associate the substance with unpleasantness. If successful, this conditioning is pretty effective. People have got off and stayed off.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-03 8:47:02 AM


Playing the devil's advocate again, eh, FC? A broken bone is a sudden injury that your body knows it has to heal and then heals, spontaneously. It will happen whether you want it to or not, although I suppose you could fight it by just re-breaking it every time it mends.

Addiction, on the other hand, results from a conscious decision made by the individual. With the exception of children born to addicted mothers, no one is born addicted to nicotine, alcohol, heroin, or crack. It's an acquired habit. While the body does become physically dependent, it is possible to shed the addiction by willpower alone, without help and without medicine. The fact that not everyone has the will to do this is evinced, among other things, by the enormous weight-loss industry that exists solely to help people avoid the reality that if you use more calories than you take in, and you WILL lose weight. It is a chemical impossibility not to.

Honestly, is there no position too outrageous for you to play the contrarian in support of it?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-03 8:53:24 AM


Shane, I believe some of us are genetically pre disposed to addictions. ie: Alcoholism may run in a family. I also stand with those who believe that an addiction can be controlled but not eliminated. And I believe that no amount of governmental intervention can change that.
Ergo: meth clinics etc are merely sources of enabling addicts to keep being addicts. And the government knows this.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-03 9:52:32 AM


It can be proven that addiction is punishment for a bad personal sinful act and when the sinner confesses his sin to the almighty God, God next helps him or her to overcomes the sin.. so thus it is not anyhting else.. if we confess our sins he is faitfull and just to forgive us.. if we say we have not sin we lie..

Posted by: Just me | 2009-07-03 11:08:02 AM


So, let me get this straight:

1. Everyone is a sinner.
2. Some people have addictions.

Therefore, the people who are addicted are bing punished for their sins.

*eyeroll*

Posted by: K Stricker | 2009-07-03 12:19:32 PM


Therefore, the people who are addicted are bing punished for their sins.

*eyeroll*

Posted by: K Stricker | 2009-07-03 12:19:32 PM


Yeah....I don't buy it either. lol

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-07-03 1:18:01 PM


"It can be proven that addiction is punishment for a bad personal sinful act"

Can you point me to a study that demonstrates this? Or an argument to that effect? I don't think there is one.

"and when the sinner confesses his sin to the almighty God, God next helps him or her to overcomes the sin..."

Hm. So how do we test this thesis? How will we know that someone is being sincere when they confess their sin? Let me guess: The proof is when they are healed!

How would we falsify the above thesis? Is it falsifiable? I'm not so sure...

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2009-07-03 1:58:12 PM


Addiction is a choice driven by a flaw or deficit in an individual's character.
It is a choice which is made through a willful misapprehension of self, respect for self, and a misunderstanding of the proper place of one's self within society.

We humans are all social animals.
Addiction is anti-social.

Posted by: Speller | 2009-07-03 7:02:17 PM


Addiction is a choice driven by a flaw or deficit in an individual's character

We are all adicted to something, whether it's beer, donuts,jewellry,money,booze,women,gambling or a thousand other things. The laws that govern what we are allowed to be addicted to are very fluid and change generation by generation. Character is also in constant change. We will always have a need to look down on others to believe that we are still in the accepted mainstream. In some countries drug use is normal and gays get the death penalty.Having a beer in some countries gets you major jail time. It's all up to the people that run our lives and think they know what's best for us.
There will always be a percentage that goes against the grain. You will always need the bad to appreciate the good, but the bad is usually at the whim of the leadership at a given time. Some bad things are universal, like robbery,murder,ect. Things like sex, drugs and vices will always remain fluid and at the whim of a countries leadership.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-06 11:22:11 PM


Well said peterj
No such thing as addiction.....just human nature

Heroin addicts cured with get this...heroin
yes as they got free shots and did not have to spend the day scheming about where they would get the ridiculous amount of money for illegal stuff on the street (90 million here last year in vehicle vandalism)

yes when they got the two free shots a day some even got the high school done and yes now with a little self esteem quit all cold turkey like all successful addiction ending people do
there is a great tool for the hardcores
when it started it was actually mostly doctors,dentists and pharmaceutical company types getting it but google Ibogaine if you really do have some one you care about that just wont share that feeling with you and care about him/herself

some people are addicted to ignorance
I will give you that

Posted by: shavluk | 2009-07-07 5:31:40 PM


"some people are addicted to ignorance".

Very true shavluk. In countries that maintain addictions and have "slow" withdrawel programs with no penalties or judgements, the crime rate associated with drugs dropped dramatically. It also freed up police forces to deal with other problems, and prisons suddenly had room for people who abused others, rather than themselves. Unfortunately, in Canada , we seem to take pride in being politically correct inclusive rather than progressive.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-07 11:37:24 PM


By "countries" you mean "country," don't you, PeterJ? And isn't the Netherlands actually tightening its drug laws? And how do you account for the fact that neighbouring Belgium, which is at least as liberal, has prisons so full that they are asking the Dutch to house some?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-08 6:24:31 AM


"By "countries" you mean "country," don't you, PeterJ? ".

Actually Shane I was talking about Britain, not the Netherlands.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-08 11:14:21 PM


Shane
To expand this a little further, the presnt situation is this:

Over the past five years, much of Western Europe has begun to move toward decriminalization of drugs, at least as far as personal possession and use is concerned. Spain and Germany are no longer arresting people for possession of soft drugs, such as cannabis or psychedelic mushrooms, and Portugal essentially has decriminalized drug possession altogether. Portuguese law now requires those caught with up to 10 "daily doses" of any substance to appear before a non-punitive commission, if they are cited at all.
Britain's next step could be to expand its system of legal distribution of heroin to addicts. Under "opiate maintenance," registered addicts receive legal, measured doses of heroin along with other health and social services. The programs are designed to help users stabilize their lives, reduce crime and increase their chances of getting clean. After a three-year trial that yielded impressive results, Switzerland has installed heroin maintenance programs as part of its overall health policy. The Netherlands has initiated clinical trials of its own, and Spain, Germany and Denmark are expected to follow suit this year.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-08 11:25:35 PM


In case you missed it shame was wrong !and shut his yap completely something he always does when it is proven he is no mind reader and makes mistakes

It is useless with some of them
they do not have the faculties to comprehend

Probably they themselves would call for jail for these types until you told them it was they themselves just targeted

Incredibly stupid people here...its such a treat

Its like a candy store where retards think themselves debaters...instead of their usual label ...bullies ....some even master-baters...LOL

Posted by: john shavluk | 2009-07-08 11:41:08 PM


john shavluk

It is also important to remember that opinions are like assholes....everybody has one. It would certainly be a dull world if we all agreed with everyone else. Shane has a lot of great posts. On this subject many of us disagree with him. Whether he is right or wrong only time will tell.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-09 1:12:14 PM


"Actually Shane I was talking about Britain, not the Netherlands."

The crime rate in Britain, and indeed in much of the anglosphere, is out of control. Bad example, Peter.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-09 1:24:32 PM


"Over the past five years, much of Western Europe has begun to move toward decriminalization of drugs, at least as far as personal possession and use is concerned. Spain and Germany are no longer arresting people for possession of soft drugs, such as cannabis or psychedelic mushrooms, and Portugal essentially has decriminalized drug possession altogether."

At the same time as the one country famous for liberal attitudes towards drugs is tightening its own laws? Has it occurred to you that other countries, like Belgium, might simply have overflowing jails and they need to focus on the more serious offenders?

"Britain's next step could be to expand its system of legal distribution of heroin to addicts. Under "opiate maintenance," registered addicts receive legal, measured doses of heroin along with other health and social services. The programs are designed to help users stabilize their lives, reduce crime and increase their chances of getting clean. After a three-year trial that yielded impressive results, Switzerland has installed heroin maintenance programs as part of its overall health policy."

An "impressive result" would be 80 percent of addicts getting clean and staying clean, forever. Giving up drugs is like giving up smoking; it's best if you do it cold turkey. In any case, I fail to see why I should have to pay for such services simply to keep them from stealing my car. It's like a form of extortion. The noose would be cheaper, and more effective. But there are few Western Europeans anymore with the balls to suggest capital punishment for war criminals, let alone drug addicts.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-07-09 1:29:47 PM


"The crime rate in Britain, and indeed in much of the anglosphere, is out of control. Bad example, Peter."

The crime rate has more to do with immigration policies and high youth unemployment than drug policies.


" Giving up drugs is like giving up smoking; it's best if you do it cold turkey."

In your opinion. Certainly a dismal success rate in that direction.

" I fail to see why I should have to pay for such services simply to keep them from stealing my car".

The people whose car is missing might just disagree with you.

"The noose would be cheaper, and more effective".


Maybe , but that ship has sailed. This whole war on drugs has been a dismal failure costing billions of dollars with no light at the end of the tunnel. Time for a new approach.

Posted by: peterj | 2009-07-09 9:02:41 PM



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