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Is Addiction a Choice?

Is Addiction a Choice?

Is Addiction a Choice?

Understanding what aspects of addiction people do and do not have control over increases people’s overall understanding of the disease. Misconceptions only further this problem, while information explains how and why addicts should get treatment. Des Moines residents who wrestle with drug abuse should seek professional help to get and stay clean.

How Choice Affects Addiction Development

Early drug use is often the result of a choice to “have fun” or to self-medicate a problem. Abusing alcohol or a drug is a choice, but what comes afterward is a combination of genetics, environment and changes to the brain. As Des Moines residents experience the perceived benefits of drug abuse, “once-rewarding activities, such as relationships, work, or family, decline in value. The attraction of the drug starts to fade as the troubles accrue—but the drug retains its allure because it blunts mental pain, suppresses withdrawal symptoms, and douses cravings” (“The Science of Choice in Addiction,” The Atlantic’s September 2013 issue). There are real reasons people continue to abuse drugs despite the consequences, and this is why addiction is defined as a disease.

Choice and Addiction Recovery

A recent study shared in The Atlantic reveals that, when addicts, “are given a good enough reason to refuse drugs…they do so.” Addiction is more than overpowering urges to use drugs, and “this means that the neural changes that occur in the brains of addicts do not necessarily disable their capacity to respond to rewards.” This doesn’t mean that drug use and addiction leave thoughts, behaviors and brain function alone, but it does mean that these changes can be overcome with the right support, motivation and treatment. Des Moines residents can get and stay well if they have the right help.

Choice and Addiction Relapse

Relapse is an unfortunate aspect of many individuals’ journeys to recovery. “Relapse Prevention,” a chapter in Alcohol Research and Health, reveals that the following situations often lead to relapse:

  • Negative emotions
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Peer pressure
  • Positive, celebratory situations

None of these situations force Des Moines residents to return to alcohol or drug abuse, yet they can all trigger powerful cravings that lead people to relapse on an addictive substance. If individuals do not learn coping skills and develop patterns for making healthy decisions, they are at risk for relapse. Relapse is not the end of recovery, but it is a sign that further treatment is needed. Overcoming the disease of addiction requires powerful incentives for making the right choices, and treatment provides those incentives.

Addiction Help for Des Moines Residents

If you live in Des Moines and are ready to end your or a loved one’s drug use, call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help you find recovery. Addiction is a disease that requires treatment, so treatment can help you make the right choices for a drug-free future.