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Opioid Addiction: Why It Really Is A Disease


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OMultiple medical associations, including the American Medical Association, have defined addiction as a disease. Addiction is often caused by a variety of factors which may be categorized as environmental, biological, and behavioral.

It's the combination of these factors that increase the likelihood of addiction in a person just as these factors may contribute to diabetes and heart disease. A person suffering from substance abuse may suffer from life-threatening consequences should their addiction go untreated. Additionally, addiction is a disease that progresses over time, meaning that the symptoms and outcomes inevitably get worse without treatment.

Why do some people believe addiction isn't a disease?
It's believed by some people that addiction isn't an illness because the person suffering from substance abuse has chosen to use that substance. For hundreds of years, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse were seen as moral failures, and as a result entire generations of people lived and died without having access to lifesaving addiction treatment. However, it must be noted that the use of a substance is not the disease. Rather, the disease is the what happens to the person's body over time as a result of the substance. For instance, heart disease is caused by a number of factors such as genetics, diet, and exercise. Likewise, lung cancer is often caused because a person decides to smoke, but that doesn't make their cancer diagnosis any less of a disease. You can't cure cancer with willpower alone, and the same is true of the disease of addiction.

When a person has entered the first stages of addiction, their substance use is still considered a choice. However, over time, addiction causes a person to lose control of their behavior. For example, four out of five people who are addicted to heroin became addicted through prescription painkillers such as opioids, and often those pills were legally prescribed. However, the regular use of these substances literally changes the way the brain and body functions.

Other people have argued that addiction isn't a disease because some people who are addicted to a substance have become sober without medical treatment. However, non-medical treatments for addiction have proven to have a limited success rate of up to 5% to 10%. Even in these cases, addicts still require some sort of intervention or peer support groups to achieve lasting sobriety. Without treatment, there are only three possible outcomes when a person suffers from the disease of addiction: jails, institutions, and death.

Finding treatment through medicine
A chronic illness is defined as a condition that's long-lasting. Although not all chronic illnesses can be cured, many can be controlled. Those who are suffering from severe addiction require intensive treatments that include medicine, peer support, aftercare, and professional monitoring.

For heroin and opioid addicts, this medical treatment can include medication assisted therapy. Methadone treatment program through a methadone center is a professional and effective way to provide heroin addiction treatment and opiate detox. A methadone center uses a clinically monitored dose of methadone to prevent the patient from relapsing and reverting back to heroin use. At the same time, the methadone blocks the pain receptors of the brain to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.

Addiction is a disease that should be treated by medical professionals before it can become life-threatening. For more information on opiate treatment and how methadone can help, contact your local methadone center today.

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