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Substance abuse is a topic that tends to spark debate: if you were to ask ten people what their views on addiction were, you would almost certainly get ten different answers. However, despite differing opinions, addiction is now a subject that is openly discussed, and there is now more aware of it being a public health crisis around the world.

This discussion is important because the more awareness of addiction that is created, the more people will be informed enough to seek out a drug rehab center if needed. Improved awareness has also gone a long way to remove the social stigma of addiction so that people are less fearful of making their suffering known.

Although it is widely believed that people need to reach rock bottom before they are motivated to enter a drug rehab center, this is not entirely true. Many people who are in descent as a result of substance abuse just keep falling further and further into addiction. It is very often the intervention of loved ones before the individual reaches their lowest point that saves them. It should be understood that addiction is an illness that can result in a person’s death, making it important they seek alcohol or drug addiction treatment before their symptoms become too acute to easily treat. (See also: Ten Tips For Early Recovery From Addiction)

The 5 Most Controversial Aspects of Addiction

In an attempt to clarify the nature of this often debilitating illness, here we take a closer look at the aspects of addiction that provoke the most debate:

1. Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

This is probably the most common points of controversy and also the oldest. Many people fail to grasp the fact that addiction is an illness because people start using substances out of choice. However, the nature of the illness means that a sufferer no longer has a choice about when they use alcohol or drugs because they are being driven to by compulsion.

Alcohol and drugs have significant negative effects on a person’s brain function which can very easily lead to long-term side-effects and destructive behaviors. However, before their substance abuse gets to this point, there is generally a period of time when the person is using purely because they want to. Some like the confidence boost of cocaine or alcohol in social situations and come to rely on it as a prop. Others may be suffering a mental health condition such as depression and are using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate their symptoms.

Ultimately, although everyone has a choice as to whether they use substances, if they persist they will eventually have no choice to indulge in addictive behavior unless they enter a drug rehab center.

2. If you’re addicted to drugs, you’re a bad person.

Many people take the view that addiction is a moral issue and a sign of weakness in a person’s character. This view generally accompanies a false stereotype of an addict as either being homeless or a criminal. It is not unusual for addicts to be viewed as people with no self-respect or self-control in attempts to sweep what is a very real problem under the carpet.

The fact is that addiction does not discriminate. In fact, in recent years the number of people receiving alcohol or drug addiction treatment for substance abuse has increased dramatically due to the rise of prescription drug abuse. It is hard to argue that a person who became addicted to opioids as a result of a visit to the physician’s office has made a moral choice to abuse substances.

Times have changed and it is now necessary to update our ideas about addiction.

3. Should addicts be punished or treated?

It isn’t uncommon for people to fixate on the illegal aspects of addiction and to feel that they should be punished rather than enter a drug or alcohol rehab center. This is mainly because one of the characteristics of addiction is risk-taking and often illegal behaviors such as driving under the influence and theft. Whilst it is important for the addict to accept the consequences of illegal actions while addicted, this is best done in a drug rehab center where they can be rehabilitated effectively.

It is important to recognize that once a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they no longer behave in ways that are familiar to those close to them. Many people completely lose all sense of themselves when they are abusing substances because of the overwhelming influence of drugs and alcohol on the brain. In order to rehabilitate addicts back into society, alcohol or drug addiction treatment is essential – as is facing the consequences through the judicial system if required. While addiction could be cited as a reason for illegal activity, it is never an excuse.

4. An Addict Has to Hit “Rock Bottom” to Get Help.

As mentioned above, many people are of the belief that an addict can only help themselves once they have reached their lowest point. However, the fact is that many people turn to alcohol or drugs as a consequence of feeling they have already hit rock bottom. Losing a job, a breakdown of a relationship, the death of a loved one or a traumatic experience can all lead to people using substances in attempts to dull the pain.

If left to continue abusing substances in this frame of mind, it is all too easy for an addict to feel complete despair at being able to crawl their way back to normality. They will also be experiencing extremely intense cravings and withdrawal from drugs or alcohol which they will find progressively harder to ignore. In the majority of cases, hitting rock bottom is more likely to encourage continued substance abuse than it is to get them into a drug or alcohol rehab center.

5. Are sober living homes a good or bad thing?

A sober living home is a form of long-term alcohol and drug rehabilitation program that is generally offered when someone has completed detox but needs continued support before returning home. Although some people believe it is detrimental to progress for addicts to share a home, it actually serves as much better motivation than is apparent.

Sober living homes provide an excellent environment for people to learn how to implement everything they’ve learned in a drug or alcohol rehab center to their daily lives. They will also remain accountable not only to themselves but other residents in the home who are at varying stages of recovery too. The concept of mutual support and shared goals with other recovering addicts is not new as it plays an important part in the very well-known and highly-effective 12 step system.

About The Author:

Mike is a health editor with a degree in Journalism and Social Communications, currently writing for several USA & UK publications. He is specialized in articles around health tips, workout plans, and other nutrition-related topics. His main aim is to help health charities to raise awareness on campaigns about misunderstood or commonly misdiagnosed conditions.

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