I currently agree in calling addiction a brain disease. The changes long-term substance abuse causes to the brain certainly fits the definition of disease.
I also agree with the idea that substance abuse can be a symptom of something else. Many times there are underlying reasons why someone uses a substance and continues to use one even after they begin experiencing adverse circumstances as a result.
There are opinions that calling addiction a disease can cause more harm than good. It’s been said that the word disease adds to shame and stigma surrounding addiction. However, as I mentioned, when changes occur in the brain from long-term use some people cannot stop using a substance no matter how bad their life, their relationships, or their health gets.
This is why I wish people would stop arguing about whether or not addiction is a disease. It can prevent someone from getting the help they need, and in some cases this can be a death sentence.
Maybe a new definition is needed? One that everyone can agree on in an effort to help those who no longer use a drug by choice, but do so because their brains have changed to the point that they are no longer functioning correctly.
disease — a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.