Discussion Response

DQ Question
June 3, 2022
PSY 100 Assignment 2: Adjustment Case Study
June 3, 2022

Reply to the following response with 200 words minimum.  (please make response as if having a conversation, respond directly to some of the statements in below post.)

I chose the “Hijacked Brain” to look at alcoholism

     The dictionary defines a disease as a disordered or incorrectly functioning part or structure of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental imbalances (Oxford Dictionary). The same dictionary defines addiction as a state of enslavement to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma (Oxford Dictionary). In my opinion and according to definition(s), alcoholism is both an addiction and a disease process.  The addiction process becomes evident when an individual cannot control the amount or how often they drink, and when they do not drink they become ill. People drink to socialize and celebrate all the time, but many individual do not know when they have had enough while others can have 1 or 2 and say that’s enough.  So the question is what separates these individuals? Is it just self-control or does it go much deeper than that?

     I believe that no one is born an addict, unless the mother was using drugs while pregnant which passed that addiction to the fetus, but the pleasure centers in the brain work differently for individuals that are prone to addiction, making that individual more vulnerable to losing control. I am not saying that everyone who is “wired” differently will become an alcoholic or an addict, just that they have a much higher risk of becoming one.  Research reveals that it stems from these abnormalities in brain functioning that leads to irrational behavior, and therefore alcoholism should be categorized as a disease rather than an addiction. This abnormality can be a trigger for many abnormal behaviors such as a gambling addiction, obsessive compulsive disorders, etc. The addiction and disease process that follows stems from what the trigger is. Maybe gambling activates this “feel good center” or maybe they have an uncontrollable need that they must wash their hands or some other ritual that satisfies this uncontrollable need.  For instance, many individuals realize that they are drinking too much, or that is causing problems at home, and may even be affecting their employment, but can’t seem to control the drinking, regardless of the consequences. As with many other drugs,a tolerance is built up to alcohol and more and more is required to achieve the same effect. The increased amount of alcohol consumed then causes a dependency (just like with narcotics) that must be maintained or the person gets very ill from withdrawal. It seems to have a domino effect in a way in that the first drink triggers something that is very pleasurable in the brain and once this is triggered, consumption continues until dependency occurs. A direct quote from our assignment “The Hijacked Brain” reveals “It’s a disease because it’s a result, actually, of drugs changing the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways. And it’s a chronic, relapsing disease because typically — sadly, but typically — people don’t have only one episode of addiction, they have repeat episodes. Addiction is not a voluntary circumstance. It’s not a voluntary behavior. It’s not just a lot of drug use. It’s actually a different state”(Leshner, 1998).

     Furthermore, since many professionals do not recognize alcoholism as a disease, treatment is extremely hard to be effective.  There are medications like Antabuse that will make the individual very sick if the drink, but just because this form of deterrent is prescribed, does not mean that the individual will take the medication. In my opinion, there is truly no treatment for alcoholism other than total abstinence from any alcoholic substance.  Although it is a fact that the initial decision to take the first drink lies directly on the individual, it is the rapid effect that follows that causes alcoholism. Because alcohol is legal, many just this process as a social problem of those that are weak and have no control.  In my opinion, this is not the case. I believe that addiction is a disease and since alcohol is an addiction that wreaks havoc on an individual and their family members it should also be classified as a disease process. My question to the class is if you classify alcoholism as a disease then do you also remove the personal responsibility from the individual since they are “sick” and cannot control them self?

“Addiction” Dictionary Definition.  Retrieved from  http://www.dictionary.com/browse/addiction.  Web.

“Disease” Dictionary Definition.  Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/disease. Web

Moyer, B. “The Hijacked Brain” (1998).  Retrieved from http://billmoyers.com/content/hijacked-brain/.  

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