Addiction is a Choice Not a Disease

Is alcoholism a disease?

“It is true that some people don’t end up recovering from addiction—and some of them use the ‘disease’ excuse to sidetrack themselves. “I have a disease,” they claim, “I can’t help it.”

Yes, you can help it—of course you can ‘help it’—but only if you choose to. When I discovered that I was an addict, I was actually relieved. I’d had no clue about what was going on with me, but I knew that the consequences I was struggling with had, over time, become progressively worse. Once I understood why I was doing what I was doing and how my negative choices were sabotaging my life, I also understood that I could change this way of living. At that point I was ready to be done with the miserable and dire consequences my addictions were causing.”

Candace Plattor

There is a article in the Vancouver Times today called, What if…addiction isn’t really a ‘disease’? written by Candace Plattor. This piece nicely sums up many of my own concerns about the disease model of addiction.

For years, I used the excuse that I had a ‘disease’ to justify my behaviour. It was only when I gave up believing in the disease theory that I could break completely away from alcohol. If indeed I did have a disease – how is that even possible? Can people with other diseases just decide they don’t have it and be cured?

Addiction to Neuroscience

In a recent post, (Is neuroscience wrong about addiction?) I discussed some of my concerns about the evidence being used from neuroscience to support the idea that addiction is a disease of the brain. Candace Plattor has similar doubts, and he sums his views up nicely with this paragraph:

“The most recent argument in favor of this comes from the understanding that there is brain involvement in addiction. As captivating and useful as much of this current research is, I know that there is also brain involvement when I lift my little pinky—there is brain involvement in everything we do, that’s how we’re wired. For me, this is not a particularly compelling argument for addiction being included in the medical model.”

Addiction is a Choice

Candace goes on to outline the choice model of addiction, and this is something that makes far more sense to me than the addiction model. It was only when I took full responsibility for my condition that I was able to make a clean break from alcohol. I understand that the theory of addiction as a disease does help many people come to terms with their condition, but the only thing it really did for me leave me feeling powerless.

This original article by Candace Plattor in the Vancouver Times is worth reading. You will find the link above in the text. There may be an annoying pop-up when you reach the site but just press the ‘x’, and it will go away.

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6 thoughts on “Addiction is a Choice Not a Disease

  1. That’s not a new idea Paul. Here’s what Claude Steiner thought in 1971:

    “Alcoholism is not a disease; therefore, the best solutions to alcoholism are not medical.”

    “Alcoholism is not incurable. It is an acquired condition different from person to person, based partly on innate, biochemical responses to alcohol, partly on social pressure to drink, and partly on the emotional, thinking, and nutritional habits of the alcoholic.”

    Healing Alcoholism:

    I think you’d find his ideas really interesting.

  2. The disease model tends to turn us all into victims.
    The repercussions from such an attitude leave us victims to our ‘betters’.
    Such denial of any form of free will is determinism gone completely mad…..
    The creation of all manner of treatments for sometimes created ailments may well turn us into servile automatons!

  3. you are an idiot if you do not believe addiction is an addiction….some are stronger then others, therefore is may be easier for some to quit then others. Love is the strongest emotion that we have…and women and men have given up children, marriage and lives because of addiction. So if its not a disease, then maybe it needs to be in a class by itself. please buy “addiction” HBO documentary.

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