Drug abuse and addiction are issues that affect people everywhere. However, these issues are usually treated as criminal activity rather than issues of public health. There is a conflict over whether addiction related to drug abuse is a disease or a choice. Addiction as a choice suggests that drug abusers are completely responsible for their actions, while addiction as a disease suggests that drug abusers need help in order to break their cycle of addiction. There is a lot of evidence that suggests that addiction is a disease, and should be treated rather than punished. Drug addiction is a disease because: some people are more likely to suffer from addiction due to their genes, drug abuse brought on by addictive behavior changes the brain and worsens the addiction, and the environment a person lives in can cause the person to relapse because addiction can so strongly affect a person.
It is important to consider how addiction to drugs begins. “Genetics accounts for approximately half of an individual’s vulnerability to addiction, including effects of the environment on gene function and expression” (Volkow). This basically means that once a person is exposed to drugs, they are more likely to become addicted to drugs after that exposure if their genes make them more vulnerable to addiction. Consequently, not every person who is exposed to drugs will develop an addiction because they do not have the genetic make-up that makes them an addictive person, meaning that: “…predisposing genes interact with [exposure to drugs] and other environmental factors to create vulnerability” (Volkow). People cannot change their genetic make-up to prevent themselves from becoming addicted to drugs. They can only limit their exposure to a drug filled...
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...ue, rather than as a criminal activity that deserves punishment, would be more effective in preventing people from relapsing into drug use by showing them the support they need to fight their drug addiction.
• "Definition of Addiction." Definition of Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine, 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. .
• "DrugFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction." National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., Nov. 2012. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. .
• Volkow, Nora, M.D. "The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology." The Brain—The Essence of Drug Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. .