One of the concepts that prove the most difficult for people to grasp is the concept of addiction/alcoholism being a disease. It has always been somewhat difficult for me personally to fully concede to. When I first learned about addiction I was 13 years old and my mom started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. When she told me that alcoholism is a disease, being the angry teenager that I was, I believe I responded by letting her know that I thought that it was a cop-out and people should learn how to man up (or woman up in this case) and take responsibility for their behaviors. Through working at Visions and going through the process to become a chemical dependency counselor I have learned a lot about the disease concept and it has become an easier concept to wrap my head around.
These days technology continues to advance and science continues to make more discoveries. Now insurance companies recognize addiction as a disease and will compensate individuals for their treatment. The American Medical and Psychiatric Associations also now recognize addiction as a disease. This is just some of the evidence that helped me succumb to the idea that addiction/alcoholism is a disease.
Among these scientific discoveries is one that is helping to spread the disease concept of addiction as a more globally acceptable idea. November 11, 2008 scientists discovered a gene that shows one’s vulnerability to cocaine addiction. The study was initially done on mice and later on humans. Rainer Spanagel, a professor of psychopharmacology at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, led the study. They noted that out of 670 cocaine addicts, 25 percent were more likely to carry the gene variant than people who did not use the drug. They also concluded that cocaine addiction can be passed down in families just like other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It was noted that cocaine addiction is 70 percent genetic.