The disease of ignorance
I am responding letters to the editor regarding addiction.
Yes, addiction is, in fact, a disease.
No, it is not contagious, nor are other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or depression.
Like the aforementioned list of diseases, it is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, and social factors; which include socioeconomic status and lifestyle choices, but I’m sure they covered this when you got your medical degree.
Addiction is a disease with a well entrenched social stigma, and understandably so because of the war on drugs and sensational media coverage which would lead most of us to believe that a person suffering from the disease of addiction is by definition a criminal degenerate.
I think most readers know that this is not the case. Addiction (which includes alcoholism) is a disease that effects every socio-economic category. The vast majority of us have been directly affected by the disease of addiction.
Rarely does the media do follow ups on addicts who have turned their lives around, or the even higher number of addicts who have never been accused or convicted of a crime.
The propagation of misinformation that somehow addiction is a lifestyle choice just makes it more difficult for addicts to seek treatment.
This is just my opinion, but I believe that most addicts stay active in their addiction for longer out of fear of the shame and stigma of seeking treatment rather than out of their desire to continue their destructive use of drugs or alcohol.
It is likely that there will never be a cure for the disease of addiction. As with any disease, improving available treatment will require ongoing research and education, and the proper appli