New Definition of Addiction

New Definition of Addiction

“I’m not a bad person… So why am I continuing to do bad things to myself and those around me?”
Sound familiar? It’s a common question uttered by those in addiction recovery, looking back at the struggles they went through. Now, it seems as if we may have an answer—alcohol and drug addiction is neither a choice nor a sign of weakness, but rather a chronic brain disease.

While the “addiction is a disease theory” has been floating around for a while, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, ASAM, the nation’s largest professional society of physicians dedicated to treating and preventing alcohol and drug addiction, has recently formalized that theory into a new definition.

So what does this mean?

Under the new definition, people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction don’t have to see themselves as “flawed” or “weak.” Instead, ASAM defines addiction as a chronic brain disease similar to that of heart disease and diabetes, which experts believe will lead to greater support and compassion to those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

In addition, experts hope removing part of the stigma associated with addiction will in turn encourage more people to reach out for help with their alcohol and drug addiction. In the words of David Sack, M.D., the CEO at Promises drug rehab centers in Malibu and Los Angeles, “Seventy years ago, cancer carried stigma. People didn’t talk about it; they thought they could ‘catch’ it. But with increased awareness stigma dissipates over time, and the new ASAM definition is an important step in the right direction.”


Contact Elements Behavioral Health

Call 855-678-8337 for a confidential assessment or fill out the form below and we will call you.