I had a overwhelming urge today to touch on a very controversial topic.
One that, for many reasons, is very close to my heart.
Defining A Disease Is Difficult
When I personally think of the word “disease”, I think of Cancer, Tuberculosis, Crohn’s, or Lupus. Diseases, to me, are fatal conditions that are either developed, or inherited, and cannot be “Cured”. They can only be “treated” to lessen the impact of symptoms and side affects.
However, the word disease is thrown around a lot.
There is a significant difference between what we might call a health condition, compared to a “disease”. We cannot continue to throw this word around as if it is an umbrella that covers a wide variety of medical conditions.
Illness, Sickness, Disease…
I personally, do not believe, that Menopause, ED, Arthritis, or other regular health conditions, should be considered, or treated by society, as a disease. These are natural parts of life, and of aging. Perhaps even an inconvenience to some.
Then there are illnesses or disorders, such as mental disorders. PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders, OCD, etc.. The list goes on.
Of course, we have natural sicknesses, such as the cold, flu, stomach flu, etc..
We have infections. Disabilities. Diseases. All of which are different
But disease? We cannot lump disease within those categories, or call certain disorders or illnesses a “disease”, when they certainly are not.
Cancer, Tuberculosis, Crohn’s, Lupus… these conditions consume a person’s entire life. Affecting and wreaking havoc on a person’s every day routine. They can be deathly. Life threatening. Fatal.
Cancer is fatal. Incurable. It’s not a NORMAL natural process of living and aging. And we cannot compare our natural struggles with ED and Menopause, to that of a slow life-engulfing, deathly disease.
We also cannot compare addiction, to a fatal disease.
Addiction As A Disease
I chose to write about this today, because it is a subject that hits closely to my heart.
I have a strong opinion, and passion, about addiction and alcoholism, and about cancer.
There are plenty of misconceptions and judgements that people place on addicts: They can quit whenever they want, they chose to do it in the first place, they continue to chose to do it.
The reality is that we never know what a person has gone through until we are them.
Many of these addicts were in the womb, as their mother’s used drugs. Some have had a hard upbringing, in a life surrounded by drugs- they knew nothing else.
Some have been beaten, abandoned, raped…
We don’t know their story. We have to stop judging people. Judging them based on common misconceptions. Judging them based on what we think we know.
We don’t know their story.
Taking that into account, I do not think substance abuse or alcoholism is a disease.
It is not Cancer. It’s not Tuberculosis. It is not a life-consuming, life-altering disease that cannot be cured.
Addiction CAN be cured. Cancer cannot.
Do you think it is fair, to lump a physical dependency and addiction to a foreign substance, in the same category as someone who was diagnosed with Leukemia?
Their minds, and their bodies, are physically addicted to a feeling that a substance provides. This is a real problem, yes. Perhaps it began with a choice. But it’s not about choice anymore. It is a physical dependency.
It is an addiction. But it is not a disease, and it is not a medical condition.
Mental Illnesses In Relation To Addiction
No, addiction is not a disease. Addiction is not categorized as a disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) either. This is the international set of medical codes used to identify specific health disorders worldwide.
However, I do believe that a majority of the time, mental illness can lead to substance abuse or alcoholism. But the addiction itself, is not a medical condition. It is not a disease.
What lead to the addiction in the first place, might’ve been a health condition. Such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc..
It also might lead to health conditions after the fact- such as lung cancer, HIV, Hepatitis, etc..
Addiction, menopause, ED, etc., are NOT diseases. And the word and ideation of “diseases” should not be thrown around and taken lightly.
I am a strong advocate of addiction recovery and awareness. I believe that you should always love and support your addict. And I will always respect, and never judge, an addict, based solely on their addiction.
But addiction is not a disease. Just like cancer is not a choice.
Until next time,