By combining my years of experience both professionally and personally, I attempt to arm those individuals who struggle with addiction with the defense needed to overcome it.
Many patients have asked me to explain addiction and to tell them what they can do about it. This thing called, “Addiction/Chemical Dependency/Alcoholism” is, in my opinion, the most insidious disease in existence today.
Why do I combine all three as though they’re the same thing? Because they are the same thing! In other words, a drug, is a drug, is a drug! Make no mistake about it, alcohol is every bit as dangerous a drug as any illicit drug being sold on the streets. Alcohol just takes longer to kill it’s victim than street drugs! But, whether it’s alcohol, Methamphetamine, Crack, or Heroin . . . they all have the power to cause death when repeatedly abused. Addiction is a disease . . . it is a disease because the American Medical Association ranks it the third top killer disease in our country; third only to Heart Disease and Lung Cancer!
To be ranked as a disease, an illness must include four components. These four components of the illness in question are that the illness must be:
- Primary: It must be an illness in and of itself. In other words, it cannot be an illness caused by some more serious illness (i.e. the headaches caused by a brain tumor).
- Progressive: It must continue to worsen on an ongoing basis regardless of the length of time the sufferer spends doing nothing that could worsen the illness (i.e. the cigarette smoker who stops smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer).
- Chronic: Once the individual has it, it’s not going to go away! It is not curable . . . however, it is treatable and can go into remission! (Just like the diabetic who is able to lead a relatively normal life with insulin!)
- Fatal: The illness must have the capacity to result in death if not treated. Death can be caused either directly or indirectly from this disease. For example, some addicts die from Cirrhosis of the Liver while others may die from a car crash while intoxicated or high.
Something else that research has revealed is that unless this disease is treated, it will result in one of three things:
- Death, and/or
Tragically, countless addicts/alcoholics have experienced all three. How to avoid it? If there has been a parent or ancestor who experienced an addiction to any mood-altering substance (including, of course, alcohol) the only way to be certain that you can avoid it is to never imbibe, or use anything that is mood-altering . . . not ever! You see, although there is no cure, we do, at least now understand the cause!