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Why is addiction considered a disease?

Published May 14 2024 | Updated May 14 2024

Addiction is widely recognized as a disease because it involves complex interactions between brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. This perspective is supported by extensive research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and medicine. Here's why addiction is classified as a disease: 1. Brain Chemistry and Changes: Addiction fundamentally alters the brain’s structure and function. The substances to which one can become addicted—whether drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors—trigger an artificial flood of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter involved in reward and pleasure. Over time, repeated exposure to these dopamine surges changes the brain's chemistry and circuits, impairing an individual's ability to control impulses, make decisions, and experience pleasure from normally rewarding activities. These neurochemical changes validate addiction’s classification as a disease, as they are not merely signs of weak willpower or moral failing, but manifestations of profound physiological alterations. 2. Genetic Factors: Research indicates that genetics can play a significant role in an individual’s susceptibility to addiction, with estimates suggesting that genetics account for 40-60% of the risk. This genetic influence is analogous to other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, where certain genetic profiles increase the vulnerability to developing the condition. Identifying addiction as a disease acknowledges the role

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