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Adolescent Addiction and the Disease Concept

By October 9, 2008 No Comments

As a chemical dependency counselor at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center one of my duties is to educate the Adolescents on the disease concept of addiction and alcoholism. As an southern Californian, with a mother who has been sober through Alcoholics Anonymous for the last eight years, I am very familiar and comfortable with the disease concept. I am not going to lie, when my mother first got sober I was an ornery 13 year old teen who believed that the disease concept was an excuse that alcoholics used to disregard their horrid behavior. I thought that alcoholics and drug addicts, not knowing that I was one, needed to buck up and take the blame for their behaviors. (I did not know at this point that the twelve steps were solely aimed at taking responsibility for our actions and making them right.) However, through the process of going to adolescent rehab at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center myself and getting sober I became very familiar with the disease concept and readily accepted it. When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them, with pride, that I am a chemical dependency counselor for adolescents. Many are intrigued to learn more about the recovering community and most people praise me for helping others. Not once have I received negative feedback or people giving me weird looks, as I originally expected. So you could imagine my surprise, when I found out through a gentleman who was touring our facility, that around the world many people are skeptical about the disease concept. When I say skeptical, I mean that the impression that I got was that is was widely discarded as hogwash, for lack of a better term. This gentleman explained to me that he taught a course in the U.K. on the disease concept. He described the way that his students reacted to it and the various ways that he had to go about getting the information to these people without the entire class balking at him. I was speechless. Sometimes, I for one, take for granted the recovering community that I have grown up in, in southern California.

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