Choice vs Disease

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Choice vs Disease

Post by barbara » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:42 pm


I am new to this group. I do have often wonder if others have this problem that I do. My son has been an addict for about 2 years now. Some meetings I attend I am told this is a disease.I have a problem with that because I feel as though it is a choice, not a disease. Cancer is a disease, not a choice. Does anyone have this problem like I do?

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by lynnieb4 » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:20 pm

My son has, what I believe , 2 diseases. One is addiction to drugs, and one is Diabetes Type 1. He believes he has diabetes and he takes care of that disease with insulin injections. He does not believe he is an addict, and therefore, he does not take care of that disease. He lives in denial because he thinks he can control his drug use. He cannot. He is an addict for 22 years now. He does not have a job and the last time I saw him, he had all of his life's possessions in a small suitcase.
I also lived in denial for the first 10 yrs. of my son's drug use. I believed he would grow out of it. You don't grow out of a disease, but there are things you can do to control it. I pray that some day he will make the decision to do that.
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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by DRM » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:46 pm

I used to think it was a choice but have learned that it is a disease. There are those that can abuse drugs and alcohol then choose to stop. If there is an addiction, it will progressively get worse just like any other untreated disease.

It is not up to me to define my loved ones as addicts or not. I am powerless over their choices. If their decisions are effecting my life, then I have a problem. Their use of drugs became so overwhelming and painful for me that I reached out here for me to live a better life. I needed recovery just as much as they did.

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by judyg » Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:02 pm

Addiction is a disease. However, an addict makes a choice about whether to use. The choice is not truly voluntary except for the first time using or the first time using after a period of being clean. The addict has a choice as to whether to recover. Even after recovery, the addiction is still there.

We have a choice as to whether to recover from our own illness or keep the focus on someone else's.



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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by ulike2b » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:03 pm

Hi Barbara,

Yes I also think the same thing and have a problem with the whole "disease" label given to the addiction and the choice. Others on here explain it really good, its just taking time for me to absorb it and believe it because its not how we think.

My 21 yr old son has been using for a few years now. So much effort and pain has gone into trying to get him "cured" only for him to disappoint again. It sounds like at some point we are suppose to focus on ourselves first and let them get better on their own. I'm kinda at that crossroads with him now.... he has just burned the bridge too many times....

I hope we find the understanding of this addiction/ disease like others on here have found so we can be better able to cope.


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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by river rock » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:21 pm

The AMA calls it a disease. If it were as easy as a simple choice, they
wouldn't be addicts, diabetes is a disease too, but people have the choice to
manage it or not, as do addicts. Until we have walked in their shoes, we cant
say if its a choice or not. they can deal with a lot of things as an addict that
go beyond their control. Nightmares, cravings, tics,etc I may sound like Im
defending them, but anyone who knows me, knows Im not. Ive been at this
a long time, and ive seen and heard a lot of things, they have to want it bad,
and it has to be a constant way of life being in recovery, and then its hard.
\I believe its a disease, with the choice to try to manage it.
hope you keep coming.
River rock

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by coinman_4 » Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:06 pm

There are many people who believe other mental illnesses such as clinical depression are a choice also. They should just shake themselves out of it and look on the bright side. They should think happy thoughts. Even Lincoln said that people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Others think the same way about agoraphobia and anorexia and other mental sicknesses. They should just eat! But I suppose there will always be such people. Only the sufferers themselves are 100% sure that there is something wrong with them and some of these mental illnesses don't even let them know.
But what difference does it make to us. We can certainly work our Naranon program and not believe that addiction is a disease. It sure made life a lot easier for me when I viewed it from this perspective though!


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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by marcw » Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:12 pm

I too wrestle with the label of disease for drug abuse/addiction. Cuz the only cure is to abstain from use and that is a choice. There are no physical consequences to the "disease" if the "addict" makes the choice to stop using.

We like to compare drug use to diabetes. I get the comparison to a degree, however, without insulin shots the diabetic will die. There's no shot or pill to take to cure addiction. The addict must stop.

I have known a number of addicts and alcoholics. When I frame their condition as a disease I can make the observation that it appears that they suffer at differing levels. Some seem to be more prone to addiction and seem to spiral downward quicker. I attribute that to personality, genetic predisposition and current circumstances they may be going through. Just like the loved ones and friends I have lost to cancer. The cancer seemed to affect some more profoundly than others ... Does that make sense?

At the end of the day I don't care if it is called a disease or not. It's real. One day, not in my life time, the medical field will be able to administer a test that determines all the factors that contribute to addiction to identify an individuals predisposition if they were to partake of drugs or alcohol. They'll also have a drug that will be able to modify that gene ... imagine the chaos that type of control will cause and the public outcry ... anyway ...

My 21 year old daughter abuses drugs and almost died from them. I reconcile it this way. The best approach that WE have today to putting this disease into remission is a 12 step recovery program and all the support it entails. So if my RAD continues to buys into it and continues to practice the 12-step lifestyle she will have a happy productive life to the degree that she chooses ... and that's all this daddy wants.

Thanks for asking the question.

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by flash » Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:09 pm

I always warned my son from when he was young to be aware that he was most likely genetically susceptible to addiction, and warned him that if he used something once he may become an addict. Well, he didn't heed my warnings. So like his father, grandfather, aunt, uncles, he became an addict. His choice was using the first time, the disease made him keep using. That's how I look at it anyways.

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by robertruth » Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:39 pm

Addictive behavior is a readily understandable symptom, not a disease.
But if we are to scrap the disease concept and replace it with something valid, our new explanation must retain all the beneficial aspects of the old disease idea. It must not allow moralizing or any other negative attributions to people suffering with addictions. In fact, we'd hope an alternative explanation would have more value than the disease label, by giving people with addictions something the disease concept lacks: an understanding that is useful for treating the problem.
Knowing how addiction works psychologically meets these requirements. Recognizing addiction to be just a common psychological symptom means it is very much in the mainstream of the human condition. In fact addiction is essentially the same as other compulsive behaviors like shopping, exercising, or even cleaning your house. Of course, addiction usually causes much more serious problems. But inside it is basically the same as these other common behaviors. When addiction is properly understood to be a compulsive behavior like many others, it becomes impossible to justify moralizing about people who feel driven to perform addictive acts. And because compulsive behaviors are so common, any idea that "addicts" are in some way sicker, lazier, more self-centered, or in any other way different from the rest of humanity becomes indefensible.
Seeing that addiction is just a compulsive symptom also meets our wish for a new explanation: unlike the "disease" idea, it actually helps people to get well. As when people can see exactly what is happening in their minds that leads to that urge to perform an addictive act, they can regularly learn to become its master, instead of the urge mastering them.
Despite all its past helpfulness, then, we are better off today without the disease idea of addiction. For too long it has served as a kind of "black box" description that explains nothing, offers no help in treatment, and interferes with recognizing newer ways to understand and treat the problem.
And there is one more advantage. If we can eliminate the empty "disease" label, then people who suffer with an addiction can finally stop thinking of themselves as "diseased."-- ctbob

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by jade » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:59 pm

This is a very interesting thread.

Maybe it's both a choice and a disease.

What I mean is,I don't think anyone decides one day out of the blue "I think I will become an addict,that sounds like fun".I do think a person chooses to use drugs but then it quickly turns into an addiction.I also don't think getting clean and staying clean is as simple as deciding to simply not use anymore when a person suffers through withdrawals.

I was reading an article today,you can find it by googling the words "The likely cause of addiction has been discovered,and it is not what you think",and after I read it I became so confused and was asking myself if I am dealing with my AS in the proper way,whether naranon is the route I really should be taking or not.The article really made sense to me and it's something I am going to have to do some deep thinking about.
If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.~Norman Vincent Peale~

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by Cheryldel » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:58 pm

Heard the other night at another meeting regarding drug use in high school and prevention. Recovering addicts testimonies stated the first time it was a choice..after that the drug took over. It robbed them of who they were and their moral compasses. The movie shown was called "Overtaken". The message was don't start..cuz you never know who looses controll over their lives..who has the disease laying dormant.
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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by jade » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:36 am

Woke up thinking this morning....

If I think of addiction as a 'disease', then why do I practice tough love with the addicts in my life?

Overeating is also an addiction but I have never once told my sisters they are not welcome in my home if they are eating.Same with smoking cigarettes,I have never thrown anyone out,made them sleep out in the cold because they are addicted.

Any other addiction and I am encouraging,I am not tough about it in any way.

Any other illness and I am not like this at all.I do not tell my older sister I can't be around her until she gets her diabetes under control,or tell my husband the same about his hypertension.

Thinking about it in this way makes me feel bad for drug addicts.They have a ' disease' yet we treat them and their disease so different than any other.

Maybe what they need is the same kind of compassion and encouragement as I give any other person that is suffering from a disease or addiction.I am sure my sons already feel bad enough about themselves and the last thing they need is to be shamed by me,by society or to be shunned for being unwell.
If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.~Norman Vincent Peale~

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by nayr333 » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:13 pm

I knew I was recovering and healing when the answer to this question didn't matter to me anymore.
I had accepted the disease of addiction and the fact that my son had it.
by working my program and changing me I am able to have compassion and maintain a healthy relationship with my addict and keep my personal boundaries in tact.
I have never been a fan of the term " tough love".. to me, not enabling and getting myself well and having healthy boundaries were the best thing I did for my RAS.. I refer to it as " true love "
there is not a day that goes by (whether my son is in active addiction or recovery) that I make sure the last thing I tell him is that I love him.

thank you for letting me share..

Nothing changes if nothing changes, Let it begin with me.

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Re: Choice vs Disease

Post by jade » Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:41 pm

TYFS and for the reminder that I need to keep working my program. :)
If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.~Norman Vincent Peale~


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