Traditional View On Addiction

Table of Contents


The current medical view on addiction is based on a combination of physiological, psychological, and social factors. Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug use or behaviors despite harmful consequences.

Here are some key points from the medical perspective on addiction:


  • Neurobiological Basis: Addiction is recognized as a brain disorder that involves changes in brain circuitry, neurotransmitter systems, and reward pathways. Repeated exposure to certain substances or behaviors can lead to alterations in brain function, making the individual more likely to seek out and engage in the addictive behavior.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Genetics play a role in addiction susceptibility. Some individuals may be more genetically predisposed to developing addictive behaviors due to variations in genes that affect how the brain responds to rewards and stimuli.
  • Environmental Factors: Environmental factors, such as exposure to addictive substances during childhood, trauma, stress, and availability of addictive substances, can contribute to the development of addiction. Socioeconomic status, family environment, and peer influences also play a significant role.
  • Psychological Factors: Psychological factors like mental health disorders, personality traits, and coping mechanisms can increase the risk of addiction. Some individuals may turn to addictive substances or behaviors as a way to cope with anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges.
  • Tolerance and Withdrawal: Tolerance, where an individual needs increasing amounts of a substance to achieve the same effects, and withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not used, are common signs of addiction. These physiological responses can drive continued use to avoid discomfort.
  • Behavioral Addictions: While substance abuse is a common form of addiction, behavioral addictions involving activities such as gambling, gaming, and excessive internet use are also recognized as legitimate forms of addiction. These behaviors can trigger similar brain responses as substance use.
Treatment Approaches


 The medical community views addiction as a treatable condition. Treatment approaches include behavioral therapies, counseling, medication, and support groups. Treatment plans are often personalized to address an individual’s specific needs and challenges.


Chronic Disease Model


Addiction is increasingly viewed as a chronic disease that requires ongoing management. Just as with other chronic illnesses, relapses may occur, but they are seen as opportunities to adjust and refine treatment strategies.




Prevention efforts are important in addressing addiction. Education, early intervention, and creating environments that reduce the risk of substance use can help mitigate the development of addictive behaviors.

Addiction is understood to involve both biological and environmental factors. Genetic predisposition can play a role in susceptibility to addiction, as can factors like early exposure to drugs, social environment, stress, and mental health conditions.


Current medical view of addiction – Helpful Resources


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States and is a leading authority on addiction research. They provide comprehensive information on various aspects of addiction, including its causes, effects on the brain, and treatment options.  NIDA – The Science of Drug Use and Addiction


World Health Organization (WHO): WHO also provides information on addiction as a global public health issue. They offer insights into the medical and social aspects of addiction.  WHO – Substance Abuse


American Psychiatric Association (APA): APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes criteria for diagnosing substance use disorders, which are related to addiction. APA – Substance Use Disorders


Mayo Clinic: The Mayo Clinic is a respected medical center that provides patient-centered information on various health topics, including addiction. Mayo Clinic – Drug



Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School’s publishing arm offers articles and resources on addiction, detailing its neurological underpinnings and treatment options.

Harvard Health Publishing – Addiction


Current Opponents to the current medical view of addiction – Helpful Resources


There are many that do not agree with the current medical view on addiction as a disease and it is definitely worth exploring the reasons for this view highlighted below:


It’s crucial to keep in mind that medical views on addiction can vary among experts and may evolve over time as more research is conducted.

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