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Why Addiction Is A Disease Essay

1337 words - 6 pages

Addiction is a disease that affects by ten percent of Americans but countless others, including family and friends, are devastated by it. Addiction is not a choice that a person can make; rather the disease takes away people’s ability to make conscious choice. Science has advanced to show exactly how drugs affect the brain chemically, proving that it is a disease and not a moral failing. Addiction is a disease and should be treated through rehabilitation and community based support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), not imprisonment, and the state and federal governments should increase funding and programs for prevention and treatment.

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Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way” (

Doing drugs becomes a reflex to the addict, almost like breathing. Glutamate is a neuron that influences learning capacity in a person (Drug Treatment). This causes the addict to start craving drugs from emotional and physical experiences in life. The addict does not always know what they are doing is wrong but with the structure of AA or other therapies, the addict can learn how to protect themselves from their disease. This also applies to people who are addicted to gambling. When they gamble their brains release dopamine and they can get addicted to that. Stress can also trigger the craving to occur in order to relieve the feelings of stress. This in a non-addict would just cause a strong craving of something but in an addict the urge is almost impossible to resist. While there is no cure for addiction it can be treated. Through prolonged abstinence and structure like AA and cognitive behavioral therapy, addiction can be treated and brain synapses and neurons can heal (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy). Some people would argue that if addiction were a disease then there would be a cure for it. Addiction has no cure but is treated, just like cancer or aids. In 1930s when study of alcoholism and drug addiction began, it was seen a moral failing and some people still see it that way but brain research shows that the exposure to the drug takes the choice away from people (Understanding). But since most addicts start doing drugs in their teens, they are just doing what their friends do and what is accepted as normal but in the addict it has lifelong effect (Chesler).

Using the criminal justice system alone is not an adequate way to address addiction. Certain laws in most states impose significant penalties for drug possession. Possession of marijuana weighing fifty grams of or less will have an incarceration period of six months and a $1,00 fine and any more than fifty grams with have an incarceration period of 18 months and a fine of $25,000 in New Jersey (New Jersey Drug Court Program). These laws have resulted in approximately 500,000 people being incarcerated for drugs in the United States (Substance Abuse) and almost half of federal prisoners were sentenced for drug cases (Flatow). Although the users are off the street during that time, statistics show that 70% of people arrested for possession go back to jail for the same charge (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet). In part this is due to the lack of effective rehabilitation in prison (Karberg). Actually drugs are readily available and used in prison (Karberg).

Even in states like New Jersey that are using a new concept call drug courts, more needs to be done for prevention...

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