Monday, January 8, 2018

Addiction is a choice

My husband and I have watched "Intervention" on A&E since it first came on 12 years ago. We have both known, and currently know, addicts. We still don't get it.

Frank and I consider ourselves to be empathetic and compassionate people, but between us, we can't seem to work up any feelings of sadness or sympathy for addicts. None. How is addiction not a personal choice? This is my question.

I understand that people take prescription medications and come to depend on them. Once they realize they're dependent, though, don't they have a choice? Can't they say to the prescribing physician, "This drug doesn't work for me. Is there another treatment that will address my chronic pain?" If surgery pain has subsided and the patient still wants the drugs, isn't it a choice to go find a heroin dealer and pay money to continue to get high instead of saying to the doctor, "I can't seem to stop wanting these pills"? If not, how is pursuing feeding the addiction instead of getting professional help not a personal decision, an independent choice? Who is holding a gun to that person's head and saying, "Use the money you have to buy heroin. Don't use it to see a medical professional who can help you through the withdrawal process." That gun-pointing person isn't there. Rather, the person has decided that however substance abuse makes him or her feel, they feel it's more important to make the choice to pursue that direction instead of going with a different option.

I understand how reward centers in the brain work, but I don't believe they force anyone to drink, shoot up, smoke, or keep gambling. That's just a choice of option A over option B.

People get sober when they want to, and if they don't want to, no treatment will be effective. It's a choice. If I'm wrong, please explain how addiction is an external force and not just an internally motivated personal unwillingness to be sober.