shutterstock_262539437There’s a stigma surrounding drug addiction that separates it from other physical diseases. People think that because you chose to participate in substance abuse, you must also suffer the consequences of your actions.

Though the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that interfere with a person’s ability to resist cravings. Some are even more genetically predisposed to suffer a drug addiction.

Chronic Diseases

Other chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma, lung cancer or heart disease may or may not have began with a person’s choice. People can develop diabetes or heart disease because they chose to eat poorly and not exercise. Tobacco users are more likely to develop lung cancer and breathing problems. Sometimes perfectly healthy people also suffer for no apparent fault on their part.

It is the same with drug addiction. Regardless of fault, it is a disease that affects schools, families and society at large. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to just, “Tough it out.” You wouldn’t tell a person with cancer that they don’t need a doctor, they just need, “Desire to feel better.” People struggling with drug addiction need the same attention and courtesy that we afford other diseases.

Lack of a Cure

Likewise, diabetes and heart disease can never be completely “cured.” Chronic diseases require lifelong treatment and management. Addiction survivors can have happy and fulfilling lives, but they may always feel a weakness or a temptation tendency towards a substance.

The good news is that 70 percent of alcoholics who stay engaged in treatment for a least one year achieve lifelong sobriety. With drugs, it’s between 50 to 60 percent. Their lives can be long, filled with hobbies, filled with abilities and filled with joy.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug addiction, your journey starts by recognizing that you can and will need help. If you can accept this, your options will be limitless.