For this post, I am bringing in the expertise of Karen Odell Barber (see Overview- Understanding Addiction for Karen’s bio).
Q – Do you believe that addiction is a disease?
A – I do. I am a practitioner who subscribes firmly to the disease model. In fact the majority of United States clinicians who treat addiction accept the disease model, and this is how we are trained.
The disease model supports that addiction is biologic, neurologic and environmental in its sources of origin. This is not a new concept. The earliest writings suggest that the disease model emerged in the late 1700’s.
I often tell my clients and their families “Addiction is genetic and linear”. This keeps it pretty simple. This is supported by medical science and data. It is possible to detect the presence or absence of the addiction signature using a QEEG brain map. The data is unequivocal and non subjective.
Accepting the disease model means that a person with addiction has the gene for addiction, and has activated the gene.
There are also environmental factors which come into play. This can mean early access to drugs and alcohol within the family of origin or codependency. In addictive family systems, codependency exists and is often an adaption to the dysfunction of the alcoholic or addicted family member.