It's a Disease
This isn’t about making bad people good – it’s about getting sick people well.
The most important thing to understand about drug and alcohol addiction is that it is a disease.
This can be hard to accept. We care deeply about a loved one, but we see patterns of behavior that are baffling and scary. We fear for their safety, and maybe for our own.
We see somebody we may not know. Somebody doing bad, even dangerous things. We can’t understand why they don’t stop using, even when life is falling apart.
We wonder what we did wrong, and we might feel angry. And we have no idea how to fix it.
These confusing behaviors are symptoms of the disease of drug and alcohol addiction. Addiction isn’t a lack of willpower or a moral failing. It’s a serious illness that makes people very sick, affecting both the brain and behavior.
Seventy years of research shows that addiction is a complex brain disease. Addiction is recognized as a disease by all of the nation’s leading medical and health organizations. And it’s a chronic disease, similar to type II diabetes, hypertension and asthma.
Widespread myths and misunderstandings about what addiction is – and the people who suffer from it – get in the way of recovery for far too many. Learn the truth about this illness.
Get a better understanding of common behavioral symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction.
There are good reasons why it can be so hard to get well from this disease.
We’ll answer your questions about the disease of addiction.