Addiction as a Disease—The Hoax

“It wasn’t until I was told the disease model was a hoax and I could have the life I wanted, that things began to get better.”
Doctor crossing fingers

If you ask the average person about addiction, they will probably have some awareness of these three things; drug use is epidemic right now, it destroys lives and addiction is a disease.

However, there is at least one big problem with this and that is addiction does not fit in the category of a disease, even on a textbook level.

Addiction has very little in common with diseases.
It is a group of behaviors, not an illness on its own. It cannot be explained by any disease process. Perhaps worst of all, calling addiction a "disease" interferes with exploring or accepting new understandings of the nature of addiction.
This becomes clear if you compare addiction with true diseases. In addiction there is no infectious agent (as in tuberculosis), no pathological biological process (as in diabetes), and no biologically degenerative condition (as in Alzheimer's disease). The only "disease-like" aspect of addiction is that if people do not deal with it, their lives tend to get worse. —Lance Dodes M.D. with Psychology Today

So why on earth has everyone accepted this misleading datum as TRUTH?

The disease model was created at a time when addicts were widely mistreated and looked down upon. The disease model came along changing the view of addicts from being people who are looked down upon, prejudiced against or hated to someone who is pitied and needs a helping hand.

However, that is the extent of the benefits of this model.

Permanently classifying someone as having a disease puts them in a position they have to be cared for and are not responsible for their own life. “It’s not their fault; they have a disease.”

Worst of all is the stated concept that relapse is part of recovery; as if it is expected resulting in an addict thinking they SHOULD relapse as part of their recovery. This perpetuates the idea one can never come back from being an addict.

It is pretty clear the idea of addiction being a disease is flawed and was originated at a time to help a societal ethical problem rather than to help the addicts themselves. We have to stop perpetuating the disease model.

I struggled with addiction. I was told I had a disease. I was told I was powerless. Not only that, I was told alcoholism ran in my family, implying I was predestined to be one. Yet the most helpful thing anyone ever told me at a Louisiana drug rehab was I am responsible for my own life and everything that happens to me. This took away my excuses and made me get honest and learn how to have the strength to face my own life. It wasn’t until I was told the disease model was a hoax and I could have the life I wanted, that things began to get better.



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.