29 Jan Addiction and Disease

To intelligently discuss the issue of whether or not addiction is a disease, we must first define the term “disease.” To do this I turned to the 24th Edition of the Stedman’s Medical Dictionary which provided the following definitions.


1. A disease is a morbus, an illness, a sickness that causes an interruption, cessation, or disorder of bodily functions, systems, or organs.


2. A disease is an entity characterized by at least two of these criteria:


(1) a recognized etiologic agent (or agents);

(2) an identifiable group of signs and symptoms; or

(3) consistent anatomical alterations of known body systems.


To determine if addiction is a disease, we must see if it meets this definition.


Our position is that addiction is a disease. This position is shared by many prestigious organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The Congress of the United States of America formally acknowledged that Alcoholism was a disease with the passage of the Hughes Act in 1970.


For further assistance, we use the DSM-IV and it’s associated criteria to better determine the difference between abuse and dependency. These criteria include :


A. A Pattern of Compulsive Use

B. Tolerance

C. Withdrawal

D. Craving:

F. Loss of control over use

G. Inability to abstain:

H. Addiction Centered Lifestyle:

I. Addictive Lifestyle Losses

J. Continued Use In spite of Problems


In conclusion, addiction as a disease assists the client better understanding his/her behaviors when under the influence. This does not absolve them or make them any less accountable for their behaviors and decisions. It merely allows them to approach the solution with less shame and remorse. It allows them to move forward with confidence, knowing that a part of their problem is genetic by nature and cannot be cured.


However, just as a person with Diabetes takes insulin, the addict must partake daily of Spiritual, emotional and cognitive tools in overcoming this deadly disease. As we open our spirits to these concepts, especially the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, we can truly feel a daily reprieve from our afflictions.

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