Does a person have a choice in being a drug addict or is drug addiction a medical disease? Who would want to undergo the suffering that comes as an outcome of drug addiction? On one side is what Dr.Jeffrey Schaler say’s in his book ‘Addiction is a Choice’: addiction is a choice in a person’s lifestyle and is not a disease. “On the other side, there is Dr. Alan Leshner who believes drug addiction is a disease and a person who abuses drugs has little choice or no choice at all for the use of the drug” (Barbaro 2007).
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.” This position has many supporters as the medical doctors wrestle with this argument” (Barbaro 2007). The position taken by Dr.Schaler is echoed by Joseph Gerstein at Harvard Medical School, “who said many drugs addicts have stopped smoking marijuana or abusing hard drugs like cocaine without the intervention of a doctor or rehabilitation program” (Barbaro 2007). In his argument, Joseph Gerstein says people who are abusing drugs only think about what they will gain at that moment and they don’t usually consider the wider implications that are brought by drugs until the drugs start impacting negatively on their life.
People abusing drugs don’t see their behavior from what Joseph Gerstein calls a ‘global perspective’. Most people abusing drugs in United State quit abusing drugs on their own without doctor intervention by the time they are 30 years old. To claim that drug addiction is a disease may be as a result of public policy, but not science, and this may be as a result of softening the stigma which is associated with drug abuse. The legal implication when people start saying drug addiction is a disease, it will encourage more people to use drugs, and crimes that are associated with drug abuse will increase because people will start having lullabies in the Courts during trials. Many criminals will go scot-free because each time they commit a crime they will say it was as a result of a disease called ‘drug addition’.
When an addict abuses drugs his mind switches off metaphorically, at that state the drug addict is not in control of the situation, he/she will have a compulsive behavior. Dr. Leshner believes, “drug addiction should be approached like any other chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.” (Barbaro 2007). When an addict uses drugs the frontal cortical area in the brain is the one that is disrupted. What is affected in an addicted brain is dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter which regulates pleasure in a person. Dr.Nora continues to see drug addiction as a disease because the brain of an addict is different from that of a non-addict. “They may be at tandem at the initial stages when an addict starts experiencing with drugs, but when the addict continues to experiment with drugs for a longer period the changes will start to occur i.e. ‘metaphorical switch’.” (Heyman 2009).
Treatment is the only solution regarding addiction in a person; it doesn’t matter if a person is on drugs by choice or as a result of a disease. This debate of choice versus disease has continued for many years. What is important at present for a person abusing drugs is to get the professional help that can help him/her to kick the habit away, whether you believe drug addiction is a disease or a person taking drugs is a result of choice it your problem, “but you should remember that drug addictions destroy family, cause death, and has an impact on the entire community” (Slife 2005).
Barbaro, G. (2007). Management of medical disorders associated with drug abuse and addiction. New York: Nova Publishers.
Heyman, G.M. (2009). Addiction: a disorder of choice. New York: Harvard University Press.
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Slife, B. (2005).Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues. London: McGraw-Hill Publishers.