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Is Addiction A Disease or Mental Illness?


Ever wondered why people struggling with addiction can’t just quit taking drugs or alcohol even when they understand the damage the substance is doing to them? The reason it’s so difficult is that it isn’t just a habit that only requires free will to quit —it’s a DISEASE. When a person takes drugs or drinks alcohol over a period of time, it can change the way their brain functions.

Addiction is a disease that needs treatment, like any other disease. Here are a few reasons why.

Addiction Changes the Brain

  • Addiction causes the brain to release dopamine (the pleasure chemical); over time, to get the same feeling, they need to take larger amounts. Activities that the person earlier enjoyed, no longer give him/her the same pleasure.
  • Addiction increases the brain’s reaction to stress; the brain circuits that control our responses to stress become overactive, making the addict feel stressed without drug use.
  • Addiction negatively affects the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which helps in decision making and controlling impulses.

Addiction and Mental Illness

Often mental illness and addiction present as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis, which require simultaneous treatment.

Treating Addiction

Most people need help to overcome addiction. It should be taken as a lack of will; it means they’re fighting an illness that is tough to overcome. But with proper treatment at a good rehab and under the supervision of professionals, complete recovery is possible.

If you know someone who needs help, call one of the best San Diego drug rehab centers, call Pacific Bay Recovery at 858-263-9700. The San Diego substance abuse treatment facility offers innovative therapies utilizing a combination of group therapy, individual psychotherapy and holistic treatment techniques that have proven high success rates.

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