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Those people just don’t have any will power. Why help someone like that?

Well, many reasons. Let’s take apart that comment and question and address each part. One aspect to this question may be answered based on religious faith or principles, in that all of us are human and that God/Higher Power/Great Spirit made us all and loves us all. Another is that we all are human beings, with potential that could be met. Every great religion and philosophy teaches some aspect of helping others less fortunate than oneself.

Now from a scientific viewpoint, we know that it is far too simplistic to pit willpower against addiction. Alan Leshner has written a number of articles about addiction as a brain disease, with addiction involving inseparable biological and behavioral components. All addicts and alcoholics went through the progression of experimentation, recreational, regular, and then abuse as a pattern progressing to addiction. So, while the pattern began as a choice, once opioid or alcohol dependence took hold, drug use is no longer voluntary. Surgeon General Gerald Koob indicates that opioid dependence is a chronic brain disease caused by complex, long-term changes in the structure and functioning of the brain. These significant changes in “brain circuitry” common to opioid dependence have led physicians to classify it as a disease that interferes with normal brain functioning.

Finally, let’s look at “someone like that.” McClellan wrote about the incredible similarities of “relapse rates” with asthma, diabetes and hypertension to those of addiction. Let’s also admit that no one starts out to have lung cancer when they experiment with smoking cigarettes, to have clogged arteries when they eat fried foods, or to have diabetes when they go for sweets. So, how different is that other person really?

Addiction is a treatable brain disease. Watch some of the flash videos WYNK offers, and schedule an assessment in your area.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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