An addict is not considered an addict just because he drinks and drugs too much, nor because his life spirals downwards because of drugs. These are just predictable symptoms of the progressive disease. Perhaps if we had a new definition for addiction, it would not be so difficult to accept that individuals may be suffering from a disease that will eventually destroy their lives.
We have all heard that addiction is a disease, but how do we truly feel about this issue? When you hear the word “addict”, do you think of a junkie, crack addict, prostitute, or a homeless person who begs for money on a street corner? When you here the word addict, do you think of a lowlife, who has unacceptable behaviors, and lower morals? Do you somehow believe that their life circumstance is their fault and that they could, “just say no?”
A successful CEO, attorney, doctor, or professional with a substance abuse problem, would not fall into the category of addict according to the stereotypical definition. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why a professional with a drug problem, alcohol included, does not easily consider himself to be addicted and readily seek addiction treatment . Success in other venues tends to convince the professional that he can also handle this problem as well, especially when he compares himself to addicts who have bottomed out and not entered a drug rehab. If the addicted professional is still semi-functioning and has not yet lost their job, house or family, his denial system will still be relatively intact.
Perhaps if we had a new definition for addiction, it would not be so difficult to accept that individuals may be suffering from a disease that will eventually destroy their lives. According to the American Medical Association, in order for a illness to be classified as a disease, it must meet one of the following criteria. It must be either progressive, predictable or terminal. Addiction qualifies as a disease by meeting not just one, but all three criteria. An addict is not considered an addict just because he drinks and drugs too much, nor because his life spirals downwards because of drugs. These are just predictable symptoms of the progressive disease.
Everyone knows that there are blood and urine tests to determine if drugs or alcohol are present in the body. Few of us are aware that there is now a test which determines whether someone has the DNA for the addiction. There is a “Y” factor in the genetic coding of alcoholics and addicts. This genetic makeup determines how the body processes, and breaks down alcohol or drugs in the system. This “Y” factor distinguishes the addict from the drug abuser.
An addict born with the DNA coding, or Y factor, is similar to the person who is born with the predisposition for cancer, diabetes, or lupus. As with cancer, when certain favorable conditions exist the diseases will activate and progress. For those with the addictive gene, once addictive chemicals are introduced into the body, the disease activates. It does not matter whether the addictive drugs are prescribed by a doctor or bought illegally.
There are exceptions to this genetic predisposition guideline. While the children of addicts will almost certainly have the addictive gene, in some instances, it may skip a generation. However, some who do not have the genetic coding for addiction, will also become addicted. Why? Drugs like crack cocaine have been designed in laboratories to intentionally cross over this genetic line, and become instantly addictive. Have you ever heard of a social crack cocaine smoker? This drug causes someone to bottom out at a much faster pace.
Drugs change the brain’s receptors sites. Enough drug usage can permanently alter the brain, and its ability to absorb vital nutrients. Our receptor sites are similar to loading docks in the brain, sending and receiving messages continually. These messages are sent through chemicals which are moved about though electrical surges. Not only do drugs alter the chemical balance in the brain, they eschew the pattern of energy pulses. But the most damaging effect of drug usage is permanent change in the cell walls, upon which other cells dock, much like how a key fits into a lock. If the lock is changed then the key won’t fit.
If you knew that you have the genetic coding for a disease, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to keep the disease from activating before the need for a drug rehab program? If you understood that your disease was actively progressing, wouldn’t you seek drug treatment? How can you help someone who does not yet realize that they need help? Family, friends, and co-workers are in a position to see the effects of drugs, long before the addicted has a clue.