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Is Addiction Really a Disease?

Alcoholism was defined as a disease by the American Medical Association in 1956, then Addiction was added as a disease in 1987.

All diseases have a set of specific characteristics or symptoms. Substance use disorders are no different. According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) here are the criteria used to diagnose Substance Use Disorders.

   1.  Using a substance in a larger amount or for a longer period of time then intended.

   2.  Failed attempts to stop or cut back using a substance.

   3.  Spending a lot of time getting, using or recovering from use.

   4.  Cravings and urges to use.

   5.  Not managing to do what you should at work, school or home because of use.

   6.  Continued use in spite of it, causing problems in relationships.

   7.  Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of use.

   8.  Repeated use in spite of potential danger.

   9.  Continued use in spite of physical or psychological problems.

 10.  Needing more of a substance to get the effect that is wanted.

 11.  Withdrawal symptoms that can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

Depending on how many of the criteria a person has will determine if it the disease is considered mild, moderate or severe. Two or three criteria indicates mild, four or five indicate moderate, and six or more indicate severe.  

The latest research shows that addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of substances leads to changes in the structure and functioning of the brain, resulting in compulsive behaviors and distorted thinking.


Although addiction is a chronic disease and has no cure, it is ABSOLUTELY treatable.

I can help treat the disease.

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