Addiction: Mental or Physical?
Is addiction a mental or physical issue? This question has been asked for many years, and there is no answer that satisfies everyone. There are two schools of thought on this topic: one that says addiction is a mental disorder, the other saying it’s a physical dependency. In this blog post, we will explore both perspectives to try to determine which side makes more sense.
What is an addiction?
An addiction is a compulsive need to use drugs or alcohol, even when it has negative consequences for the user. The compulsion can be so strong that an addict will continue using despite serious health problems and other issues in their life. People who are addicted generally don’t want to stop taking drugs; they just want not to feel like they’re forced to.
There is no question that addiction has a strong physical component, but it also clearly isn’t just about the chemical effects of drugs on the body. An addict’s brain is changed by years of drug use so that they have to take more and more in order to get high; this doesn’t happen with non-addictive substances like caffeine or alcohol.
Physical vs Mental
The first school of thought is that addiction is a physical dependency. Since people with addictions have to take more and more drugs, the body adjusts by producing fewer endorphins or other chemicals on its own. This means that the addict has to go further into debt every time they use; eventually, it’s not worth using because no matter how much they take, they won’t get high. Meanwhile, the body stops producing its own natural “highs,” and withdrawal symptoms result when the addict finally quits using.
The second school of thought is that addiction is a mental health issue. This position holds that people become addicts because of other issues in their life; drugs are just an easy way to cope with these problems. For example, someone might abuse alcohol to deal with stress from work or school; they continue this behavior because it helps them forget what’s troubling them and makes their life easier in the short term.
There is some truth in both perspectives: addiction isn’t just physical or mental, but a combination of both. The body and mind both play a role in addiction and recovery, and it’s important to take them both into account.
Signs of addiction
People with addiction have to take more and more of their drugs or drink in order to get high. They stop doing other things that are important, either because they can’t afford them anymore or because they’re too busy using drugs/alcohol.
If someone says “I don’t want to use drugs but I feel like I have no choice,” it’s a sign of addiction. People with addiction will go to great lengths to get their drugs or alcohol, often stealing from friends and family members in order to afford them.
When someone says “I just want not to feel like I’m forced to take drugs,” they’re probably addicted.
How to help a loved one struggling with addiction
If you suspect that your loved one is struggling with addiction, the first thing to do is talk about it. Tell them how much their drug use bothers you and why it’s a problem for everyone involved. Keep in mind that they aren’t going to stop using drugs right away–it takes time to beat an addiction.
Emmaus Medical and Counseling offers treatment for addiction. We have counselors who are experienced with many different types of addictions, including alcoholism and other substance abuse issues.