A Choice

When evaluating the definition of the word “choice,” any form of addiction can simply be expressed as one’s own act of selecting a possible outcome for themselves when they are faced with multiple other options as well. A person is responsible for their own actions, so if someone chose alcohol or drugs over other life possibilities and obligations, then they are at fault for putting themselves in an unhealthy and self-degrading position.

In terms of the difference between a disease and a disorder, diseases are defined as a “pathophysiological response to internal or external factors,” whereas disorders are defined to be a “disruption to regular bodily structure and function.” While diseases and disorders include mental illness, addiction cannot be termed a disease or a disorder because ultimately a person still has the choice of what they do with their mental health.

Photo by Nathan Bingham

By claiming that addiction is a disease one would fall guilty of post hoc ergo propter hoc: the fallacy that states that since event Y followed event X, event X is the direct cause of event Y. Though addiction may be linked to a history of mental illness, addiction itself is not caused by this disease. Addiction is a pathway caused by one’s own individual behaviors and actions which are developed upon their personal incentives. Disease may be a correlated factor to a person’s continuous substance abuse patterns; however, the root of addiction is one’s choice.

Additionally, there is no excuse for ignorance when it comes to drugs. Younger generations have learned legally-required health education curriculum. Systems to prevent drug abuse are in place almost everywhere. While peer pressure and other external influences may factor into one’s decision to use drugs, a decision is a decision. Breaking the law or being unhealthy should not be excused as being a “disease.”

Previous generations without any knowledge of the detrimental health effects of tobacco were addicted to cigarettes. This lack of research is no longer an issue. Anti-drug advertisements and laws are in place to protect citizens from dangerous drug usage. Research has been done, and the internet and education systems in place have created a society where there is no justification for the lack of information.

Classifying addiction as a disease takes away responsibility from addicts who need to actively work to fix their problems. If medical professionals solely consider disease, psychological fixes like mindfulness and self-awareness might not be an option, even though a psychological problem does not necessarily require medicine. Fixing addiction needs to be a choice, as it is the original choice to use the drug that caused the problem in the first place.

It is necessary for drug addiction to be considered a choice to open more opportunities for addicts to receive help. In order for responsibility to be handed to the addict to solve problems that have arisen because of their own decision to use the drug in the first place, even with available information on the risks of their choices.