Philosophy of Ethics
August 5, 2015
Addiction a Disease or a Choice
Proponents for treating addiction as a disease and critics who want addiction treated as a choice both have what appear to be morally sound arguments to support their stance, but which can be considered the most morally sound? One fact both proponents and critics agree on is that addiction begins with a choice to use drugs or alcohol. Addiction is a disease which is originally caused by someone’s choice to use drugs or alcohol; however, it ceases to be a choice and becomes a disease as the brain undergoes chemical changes caused by the use of drugs and alcohol.
Addicts made the original choice to use drugs or alcohol and continue to make this choice which leads them to suffering from addiction. The compulsion addicts suffer from is a self-inflicted compulsion and must not lead to addiction being labeled a disease. Only through being held accountable for their actions will an addict make the choice to stop using drugs or alcohol. Addicts must be held responsible for their illegal use of drugs or consumption of alcohol.
Identify the Problem
The effective treatment of addiction requires the determination of whether addiction is a disease, or someone’s personal choice to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. Critics rightfully argue that addiction is a consequence brought on by the choice to use drugs or alcohol. People who believe addiction is a choice also believe an addict never loses the ability to make an informed choice concerning their continued use of drugs or alcohol. What proponents for treating addiction as a disease are stating is that addiction becomes a disease when the addict no longer has a choice but to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. The choice ends when the compulsion for substance dependency becomes too strong to ignore, due to chemical changes in the brain caused by long-term drug or alcohol use.
Addiction is caused by using drugs or alcohol. An addict is someone who participates in the use of drugs or alcohol. Choice is the decision an individual made the first time the decision to use drugs or alcohol was made. Disease is what addiction becomes because of the chemical changes that happen in the brain from long term drug or alcohol use. Neurobiological disorder is a change in the neural functions of the brain due to drug or alcohol abuse. Substance dependence is the dependency suffered by individuals using drugs or alcohol. “TPR (Transient Receptor Potential) family channels, which are primarily known to function in sensory systems.” (Wescott, S., Rauthan, M., Shawn Xu, X.Z., 2013, para.1). Compulsion is the irresistible impulse to use drugs or alcohol by someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, regardless of the consequences of their actions.
Identify Possible Solutions to the Problem
Treating addiction as a disease allows addicts to receive medical treatment for their addiction under their current medical plans as well as enabling the medical profession to fully train doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of addiction. If we decide to classify addiction as a disease, then addicts need to be aware they lose their right to autonomy. Since addiction is classified as a disease, the decision to force an addict to receive treatment for their addiction disease is not a violation of their rights (Foddy, B., 2010). Classifying addiction as a disease also obligates insurance companies to accept responsibility for providing medical coverage for the treatment necessary for an addict to fight their addiction.
Since addiction is a choice, it must be considered an elective medical choice and medical plans should not have to provide medical coverage. If we decide to classify addiction as a choice, then we must hold the addict responsible for their addiction. The problem with holding the addict responsible is that when a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol