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Addiction Defined as Brain Disorder

For many years people have pointed fingers at substance abusers claiming it is their fault for their addiction to alcohol or drugs. Even with reports of addiction running in family genes, people still continue to think addiction is something that can be easily controlled. The truth is drug addiction is an ugly disease that can sometimes be deadly, and people deserve to get help from a treatment center without feeling guilty or embarrassed for their struggles with this disease.

In a new study, researchers are claiming that addiction is now defined as a chronic brain disorder and not as a behavioral issue involving drugs or alcohol. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recently concluded a four year study involving 80 experts where they came to this conclusion. Society as a whole has always looked at addiction as a social problem, a criminal problem or even a moral problem. But this is not the case because many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems, according to ASAM.

In the new definition published by ASAM, they conclude that addiction is more of a primary disease, instead of it just being the result of other causes, such as emotional stress or psychiatric trauma. And like many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, addiction is now recognized as a chronic disease. This means it is a lifelong struggle that addicts have to go through in order to survive in this world. Now that addiction is considered a chronic disease, researchers are focusing more on how to manage and monitor it over the course of a person’s lifetime opposed to focusing on a one-time treatment plan.

Not a day goes by in today’s world where a story involving a celebrity or star makes national headlines with a DUI arrest, overdose or some other tragic event having to do with drugs or alcohol. Even in our day-to-day lives, most people know someone suffering from drug addiction that is compulsive and shows signs of destructive behavior which is associated with their substance abuse. What many do not realize is this behavior is actually a manifestation of the underlying diseases in the brain.

ASAM officials decided after two decades of advancement in neuroscience, that addiction should be redefined by what is actually occurring in the brain that causes people to become addicted to various substances. Research has shown that addiction ultimately affects the brain’s reward circuitry area thus making an addict crave more of what they associate makes them “feel better” even if it is not good for them. A lot of addicts will tell you that they do not want to be controlled by the need for drugs or alcohol, but that the urge to have them is strong within their brain that the addiction ultimately wins and addicts end up using again.

Additional research also showed that the brain circuitry that has to do with impulse control and judgment is skewed in the brain of substance abusers. Since judgment and control is off in an addict’s brain, it results in a nonsensical pursuit of “rewards” otherwise known as an addict’s drug of choice. Now the debate concerning whether addicts have a choice in their behavior can be put to rest, as it is not something that is so easily controlled without the desire to stay sober and the help of a treatment center. Sadly, addiction creates many distortions in feelings and emotions for those who struggle with the disease which leads to addicts behaving in a way that others cannot understand unless they know what it is like to struggle with addiction.

Addiction is not a choice that people make. It is quite simply a chronic disease that individuals who suffer with must make a conscious effort to control in order to live a healthy and drug-free life. Recovery is the only option for survival, which is why alcohol and drug treatment centers are so important for addicts to utilize. It is just like a person living with diabetes choosing to watch their sugar intake and change their diet in order to stay healthy and save their lives.

Now is the time to stop judging those with addictions and instead work to help them through their drug addiction. Whether that means simply being there for a family member or friend, or helping them get assistance through a treatment center, it is important now more than ever to help addicts find a way to work through the recovery process. If you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, please do not hesitate to contact a fantastic treatment center in New Mexico: Vista Taos Renewal Center. They will assist and guide those suffering with this disease to lead a better life that is drug-free and full of life and love.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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