As an addict, having my condition called a disease meant absolutely nothing. The consequences of using are still the same, jail time, job loss, licenses lost, rehab, the guilt, the broken relationships.....
It sure doesn't help an addict to have their immorality constantly blamed, but the disease card doesn't make addiction any easier for an addict to use or to get clean..only God or a Good Orderly Direction (the program) can do that.
I used to think that calling drinking too much or taking too many pills a disease was just a bunch of crap - an easy way out when the user was up against the wall after being caught or having to take responsibility for something they'd done. But a couple of years ago I realized that my brain - my addict's brain - is "wired" differently than a normal person's. Example - my wife is normal; one of the most normal people I've met when it comes to substance abuse. When I used to drink she'd drive me crazy because she'd have a drink, and if, say, she got involved in a TV program or conversation, the drink would sit for hours, then she'd throw it away. Vicodin - she had some dental work done. Came home and took aspirin; decided that she didn't really need the Vics so she flushed them! I couldn't believe it! But that's her.
Since I was young I've always over done things; the first time I took a drink I was hooked; the first time I took a pain med I was hooked. So, now I believe that it is a disease in that my brain is different. However, I am VERY aware of the things I do and the choices I make. When I relapsed over the last 15 years I didn't black out when I got around pills; didn't wake up in an alley with an empty bottle of meds in my hands. I knew from the moment I was exposed to the drug exactly what I was going to do.
Anyway, that's just me. I've been clean now for 18 months. My choice.
I think it's important to see the difference between a reason and an excuse.
Whether you believe it's a disease or not, if someone is an addict, that can be a big reason they do drugs, hurt the people around them, etc, but that does not give them an excuse to do so.
It comes down to the addict recognizing that they have an actual problem and taking steps to control it (both "today" and into the future).
Addiction isn't about "self control". That's part of the definition of addiction actually. Basically, addicts do things that are out of character for them in order to obtain their DOC. That's not because they lack self control, it's because their minds work differently than those of a non-addict.
Addicts VERY seldom "choose" to be addicts..who would choose that? It isn't like someone who loves chocolate overindulging. Addiction is a mindset.
I don't think addiction is a disease at all. People become addicted to all kinds of things all the time. Some people love chocolate and will do anything to have it, does that automatically make it a disease? Or is it what they are abusing that makes it a disease? I will not blame a person entirely for what they do under the influence of drugs or substances, but when they are sober and just want more of it, they need to exercise self control. I know this bc I was an addict and all the while you are making those decisions, the same conscious that lives in everyone else lived in me. And you are aware of your actions, you just make excuses for yourself and limit your own self control.
That's the disease of addiction, it never goes away...and relapse is an all too common reality for the addict. The addict mind never stops, even in sobriety. It largely depends on what the person has done to learn how to cope with cravings and the risk of relapse. Some relapse after 20 years of sobriety. Just because someone has been clean for a length of time doesn't mean the addiction is gone.
Yes, just because an addict has a disease, doesn't "excuse" their behaviors or choices either. Docs themselves make it very clear to the addict that they still need to be accountable for the choices they made. Most certainly, addiction played a BIG role, but they still are accountable.
I must agree Jaymello. When someone has been clean for months or years and they are well aware of the consequences of going back to the drugs. Then I believe it becomes a choice. They know what is right and wrong but still My Husband has used the disease card a lot..
I don't necessarily mean old behaviors I mean going back to using after a long time of sobriety period. !
I feel that sometimes addicts or alcoholics will use the 'disease' as a cop out... saying things like, "Sure, I stole $1,000 from your account, but I have a disease!" You may have a disease, but you know right from wrong, and there should be some accountability. Should we forgive our addicts for the things they do in active addiction? That's solely up to the individual. However, if the addict has been clean for a period of time and is still engaging in old behaviors, I find there is no excuse for that. If they're still stealing, lying, cheating, etc. while sober, there is a line to be drawn. They're no longer under the wrath of drugs, so why continue to act that way?
Thank you for your response. I do agree with what you are saying. But I think what I'm mad at is my husband for making the choices that he did NOT because he has a disease. And what my husband is saying is that I should not be mad at the addict because its a disease.. Now this leads me to this...
I understand the "disease"/addiction part when the addict is actively using! I have grown up around addicts and alcoholics and I know they do things they would never do if they were sober. The part I struggle with is when the addict has been sober/clean for a long period of time.. Thats where I get feeling theres no excuse because your brain is clear of drug use. But you know I only have ever been on the other side of it and I don't know.
I made a typo in my post.
At our counseling session my HUSBAND said I should NOT be mad at the person because its a disease.
I personally do think that addiction is a disease, but I'm going to have to say that I disagree with your husbands counselor. There is no reason to be mad at the addict for having a disease. Would you be mad at a woman simply because she has breast cancer? Or at a child with autism?
Addiction is a different type of disease. It takes control of you mentally, physically and emotionally. Addicts will do some crazy things while they're using, things that they wouldn't normally do, like steal from family and friends, etc. However, while I agree that there should be a bit of accountability on the addicts part for their actions, to be mad at them because they have a disease? Never.
If anything you should be mad at the disease itself, not your husband. But that's just my two cents. :)