Term Paper: Should Drug Addiction Be Considered a Disease

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¶ … DRUG ADDICTION BE CONSIDERED a DISEASE?

The objective of this work is to state an argument as to whether drug-addiction should be considered a disease. For the purpose of this work, it will be argued that DRUG ADDICTION should be considered a disease.

The work of Alan I. Leshner, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse - National Institute of Health states that it is all too common that the individual who first experiments with addictive drugs such as cocaine with the intention of trying it only once "enjoys the drug's euphoric effect so much that in ensuing weeks and months he uses it again - and again. But in due time, he decides he really should quit. He knows that despite the incomparable short-term high he gets from using cocaine, the long-term consequences of its use are perilous. So he vows to stop using it. His brain, however, has a different agenda. It now demands cocaine." (Leshner, 2007) No matter how the individual tries at this point, many are unable to resist using the drug again and they use the drug beyond their own control in a compulsive and addictive manner.

I. DRUG ADDICTION IS a DISEASE

According to the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA), many factors are involved in drug addiction. Drug addiction "shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), and an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification." (NIDA, 2007) the following chart illustrates the factors associated with drug addiction.

Factors Associated with Drug Addiction

Source: NIDA (2007)

II. The DEBATE

Alan I Leshner writes in a 2001 article entitled; "Drug Addition: A Brain Disease" that: "For many years, curbing illegal drug use has become one of the most contentious and complicated public-policy issues in this country. Everyone has an opinion. One side insists that we must control supply, the other that we must reduce demand. People see addiction as either a crime, a disease, or a failure of will. None of this bumper-sticker analysis moves us forward." (Leshner, 2001) Leshner relates that the 'brain-based view of addiction' has been the source of much controversy "in part because some people wrongly think that it somehow absolves addicts of responsibility for their own behavior." (2001) the reason for this controversy is because it is a generally held belief that "biological and behavioral explanations are alternative or competing ways to understand this phenomena, when in fact they are integrated and inseparable parts of the picture." (Leshner, 2001) for those who have this brain disease, it cannot be said that they are "simply victims of their own genetics and brain chemistry" because while some people are predisposed to be more susceptible to addiction "genes do not doom one to become an addict." (Leshner, 2001) This is because drug addiction begins "with the voluntary behavior of drug use." (Leshner, 2001) Furthermore, Leshner relates that the drug addict "can and must participate in and take some significant responsibility for their own recovery. This brain disease does not erase self-control, but it does significantly erode one's… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Should Drug Addiction Be Considered a Disease."  Essaytown.com.  November 27, 2007.  Accessed October 22, 2019.
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