Addiction is a Choice, not a Disease

I have struggled with the claim that addiction is a disease.  Those who are diagnosed with non self-induced (i.e. a self induced disease is a smoker getting lung cancer) cancer or Type I Diabetes, to me, greatly differ from those who are sick because of poor decision making.  They had no control over their diagnosis—one day they started feeling ill, went to the doctor, took some tests and eventually received some very bad news.

An alcoholic or addict knows they are destroying their body and mind—but they continue to do so day after day.  They continue to drink or do drugs, often times, after being told death is just around the corner.

“If you don’t stop drinking and/or doing drugs, you will die.”

A simple choice is given:  life or death.

I started drinking because I wanted to.  My drinking progressed because I let it—and eventually I became a full blown alcoholic because I allowed my body and mind to get addicted to a substance.  Don’t mistake a bad habit that spirals out of control for a terminal illness.

Someone fighting breast cancer, or struggling to manage a disease they in no way created within themselves would most likely do anything to be cured.  Often times, cancer is terminal…there is no choice.

An alcoholic or addict simply, yes simply, needs to find the courage and self control to stop using—fight through the first few months of sobriety, and focus on staying clean.

Just like an obese person should diet and exercise–or a smoker should quit…an addict/alcoholic should stop using.

Saying that addiction is a disease gives addicts a scapegoat, and is an insult to their families.

“It’s not my fault, it’s my disease.”

“I shot up, or drank a 1/5th of whiskey because I have a disease.”

No mother-fucker, you did that because you are selfish—and lack self control.  You absolutely know you made the wrong decision—and that decision will hurt you and those you love.

Addiction isn’t a disease, it’s a choice.  If you never chose to become addicted to a substance in the first place—the disease you say you have wouldn’t exist.

I agree that some people are prone to becoming addicts—due to environment or family history, but in no way is alcoholism like non self-induced cancer, or some other terminal illness.

In fact, calling alcoholism or drug addiction a disease is an insult to those who have actual diseases.

I was a raging alcoholic, and on the day I quit drinking, I knew it was on me.  I had to stop thinking of any reason and excuse to drink.

“Shit, I had a bad day.  Beer!”

“Oh, a football game.  Beer!”

“It’s Saturday.  Lets’ drink! A beer!”

I can actually come up with many more reasons to convince myself to have a drink, but I won’t.  Do you know why?

Because through time, effort and the support of friends/family—I realized that I was slowly killing myself.  I decided that I would rather live than die of liver disease—or in a flaming car wreck that may hurt or kill innocent people.

I made the choice to stop choosing to drink alcohol every day.  I made the choice to become a better father, boyfriend, son, brother, etc.  And you know what?  Anyone else suffering from alcohol or addiction can make that choice too.

Do you know who can’t choose to wake up tomorrow and heal themselves:  a child in the cancer ward, a mother fighting breast cancer and the kid who doesn’t produce enough insulin.

I’m not trying to be insensitive—but as an alcoholic who comes from a family of addicts, I feel that I’m more than qualified to say that bad choices and self destruction shouldn’t be mistaken for a disease.  All of us addicts have a choice, each time we drink or use, and we have the ability, if we dig deep, to walk away from the pain.

I’ll drive by the liquor store on the way home today, and if I decide to go by a twelve pack, it’s not a disease controlling me—it’s a conscious decision to make a bad choice.

Take accountability.


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