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Why are you saying addiction is a disease?

This is not an excuse or flippant remark. There are no fewer than four locations in the brain which modern research shows are implicated in addiction. It is a complicated, multiply determined condition, which involves genetic predisposition, environmental factors and triggers, and the person him/herself.

Dopamine in the brain is a “feel good” chemical so we can enjoy life. These pathways were developed so we could survive, individually and as a species. We get surges of dopamine when we eat, mate, and bond with others. We use alcohol or other chemicals to feel good, and dopamine levels surge much higher than would occur naturally. Some refer to this as hijacking the brain’s chemical pathways. Unfortunately, as our brain tries to re-establish balance, our brain lowers the natural dopamine levels, making it lower than baseline. Now we need even more of our alcohol or drug to even hope to feel normal. So, when we are not using our drug of choice, we feel intense cravings and depression. The brain believes that the only way to try to return to normal is to obtain and use more of the drug. By this time, alcohol and drug seeking and use are more important than family, social and employment activities.

If not treated, this cycle continues in a downward spiral. Many other diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes may result in death if untreated, just like addiction. This is why the Twelve Step programs talk about this disease left unchecked as resulting in jails, institutions, and death. This progressive and fatal disease is treatable.

To stop this downward spiral, watch some of the WYNK flash videos relevant to your situation. If needed, find an addiction psychologist, an addiction medicine specialist (physician) or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor in your community as addiction is treatable.

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

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