Is Addiction a Disease?

At first, instinct, when asked if they know what makes a disease a disease one could say they know a disease when they see the signs of it: pale skin, bulging eyes, rash on the skin, coughing fits, sneezes, sweats from contracting a fever, spurts of diarrhea, vomit, loss of appetite, or increase of thirst. Countless physical signs predict or prove the presence of a disease or illness. However, not all signs of disease are physical or seen through the naked eye. These diseases and ailments are coined with the term invisible.

Invisible is a broad term used to characterize and describe any illness, disease, disability, or ailment that is not evident or physically visible. A primary example of an invisible disease includes addiction.Throughout time countless studies have been conducted, trying to conclude whether or not addiction is a disease. It is. Addiction is a chronic, complex, and sometimes invisible disease. Still, do not let the factors, rumors, and stories get in the way of calling for help and seeking recovery treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, do not hesitate to call 912-214-3867. We can help you take your first step out of addiction and into recovery.


“Is addiction a disease?” Continue reading below to find out more information about addiction.

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Addiction 101

Defined by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain”. Experts regard addiction as a compound brain disease and mental disorder. The disease is typically the result of constant misuse of a dangerous substance.

Reasons Behind Usage

There are not enough pages in books to fill with reasons why people use drugs. Still, there are three categories that varying reasons typically fall under.

  • Sentimental: The user feels empty, like a void cannot be filled (grieving the death of a loved one, end of a relationship, self-medication).
  • Psychological: The user feels low and pessimistic towards themselves (abuse, trauma, loneliness, bullied, mental illness, to fit in, environmental surroundings, and influences).
  • Corporal: The user thinks they need the “high” effects to initially feel better (to enhance performance, not burdened, rebel, be in control, boredom, instant satisfaction, and to find relief from financial burdens, stresses, or career pressure,).

Another reason people use drugs or initiate the habit is simply that they are curious or perhaps, they have been misinformed about the substance.

Forms of Substance Use


Orally administering drugs is the most common method of taking substances. Many people find this method the most convenient, and it is one of the fastest ways for a user to experience a high. Either way, the method proves to be the most favored form of use.

Now, swallowing the drug is the safest among the few ways. Why? One of the primary reasons is because the human body’s stomach lining and, overall, the digestive system is programmed to induce vomiting if there is a risky or dangerous substance that has been ingested. This increases the chances of expelling the administered substance before experiencing a high.


Snorting drugs and administering them through the nasal cavity is another favorite among users. Those who snort drugs are typically users who administer tobacco, heroin, ecstasy, and cocaine. Once the drug is processed up and through the user’s nose, approximately 50% of the chemical will immediately enter through the mucus membrane and into the bloodstream. This permits the user to experience a high within a matter of minutes after the snorting is complete.


Smoking is another extremely common way to use a substance, widespread. Every day people are seen outside business buildings, on the street, in a car, a house, or a bar smoking a cigarette or cigar. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 34.2 million people smoke every day, and thousands of the younger generation are beginning the habit every day.

Whenever someone smokes a cigar or cigarette—inhales the toxic chemicals—the smoke instantly goes and fills the lungs of the user, making it the second-fastest way to experience a high. Tobacco is not the only substance that someone can smoke. Other substances such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin can be smoked.


This particular route of administration includes the usages of a syringe. Due to the use of needles, this form of administration plays more on the risky side Why? One, because a user would have to be knowledgeable of where and how to inject themselves while maintaining their safety as a priority. And two, when injecting drugs directly into the bloodstream, the user is at a greater risk of becoming addicted to the behavior and habit.

When injecting a substance via a syringe, it is immediately absorbed and enters the user’s bloodstream, making the user experience a high within a matter of seconds. Because the substance is directly injected into the bloodstream, the substance can avoid several defense mechanisms and, therefore, directs the supplement matter of the drug to the brain.

Rectum or Vagina (Suppository):

One of the most dangerous forms of using drugs is inserting it rectally or vaginally, also referred to as using suppositories. After the substance is inserted, it engrosses in the rectum’s or vagina’s mucus membrane. This form of practiced administration is not the typical route users take.

Conducting drugs in such a manner is highly dangerous because the area surrounding the rectum and vagina is one of the most vulnerable regions on the body. Handling substances in this way can deftly burn the lining of the area, causing irreversible damage. A simple factor that could play a role in this injury includes the substance being too acidic.

If you, or someone you care about, are suffering from addiction then please do not hesitate to reach out. Our trained experts can help you get on the path to sobriety today. We can also help you determine the best course of treatment for yourself or someone else.

How Drugs Effect The Brain

Despite the number of ways to administer drugs, one way or another, after the drug properly breaks down it will reach and affect the brain. Whether implicitly or not. Once the drug gets to the brain, it instantly becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which robustly emphasizes the use of the substance and its behavior. Dopamine is known as the “feel-good” hormone that the body naturally produces and releases into the bloodstream when one feels good or pleasure. “It is present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors” (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2018).

Numbers in Drug Overdose:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, 67,367 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. Of those 67,367 people, 4,633 of them were between the ages of 15 and 24.

Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

People often have a difficult time differentiating between tolerance, dependence, and addiction when the topic comes up. They frequently think all of them are the same. However, that is not the case.

Tolerance is what occurs when a user does not respond the same way to dosage as they did before, subsequently causing the user to administer higher or stronger dosages of substance so that they are still able to experience a high.

Dependence is what frequently occurs when a drug is taken frequently over a period of time. Dependence is evident when a user undergoes withdrawals when they stop using altogether. Because of the mild to severe withdrawal symptoms users will likely experience, experts recommend that the user gradually stops using substances completely under the supervision of a medical professional.

And lastly, addiction. As stated before, addiction is a disease, unlike the previous two. However, addiction is the outcome of the constant use of drugs and other substances. Using drugs frequently often leads people down this particular road.

You do not need to suffer through an addiction alone. Because you are not alone. We are here for you. Contact our specialists today and start recieving the treatment you deserve tomorrow.

Overcoming Addiction

To overcome addiction, one must be willing to take the first step and seek help along with the treatment needed. Whether that is calling the local rehab center for further information, reaching out to a friend or relative to help with the process, or doing research and gradually pursuing the process on their own.

What does this mean when it comes to overcoming addiction? It means that simply saying no is not enough. Yes. Addiction is and can be successfully treatable, but only if the said person seeks help and has the will to change their life completely.

Best Forms of Treatment

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications, if available, is the best way to ensure success for most patients. However, each treatment plan and recovery program are for each patient individually. One treatment plan or program may not be successful for a patient as it was for another.

Role of Family and Friends

During the process of treatment, family and friends must support the one they love and care for as they go through their recovery program and follow their treatment plan. They should make it a priority—if they have not already—to maintain a healthy relationship with the individual currently undergoing treatment. This can show itself in many ways. Some of these ways can include:

  • Attending support groups with their loved one
  • Helping them set firm goals and boundaries for themselves when they complete treatment
  • Visiting them on occasion
  • Asking how they are doing with their recovery
  • Non-judgementally holding them accountable if they fall short
  • Offering them words of encouragement

It is important to be there for someone who is battling addiction. Even if they do not tell or show signs that they are struggling, they are. No one should or have to face hard times alone. Be there for them, and if they forget that they are not alone remind them that they have support during every step of their recovery journey.

Decision Time

The signs and symptoms of addiction may not be visible to a passing neighbor, cheerful friend, co-worker, or even a loving relative. Of course, how can someone see the signs if they are not looking for it, or are willing to consider its presence? No one may know what made them start the habit. Still, addiction is an invisible disease. It is chronic, complex, destructive, and painful for both the addict and those that surround them to suffer through. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, then please call us. Please, seek the help and treatment that you or a loved one needs to live a fulfilling and happy life. Do not let this disease claim another precious life.

addiction is a disease


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