Is Addiction a Behavioral Disorder?

Mom and son
Drug and alcohol addiction is considered to be many different things. Defining addiction as a medical, psychological, or behavioral issue strictly has been a challenging battle. Addiction is not strictly medical, psychological, or behavioral, but a combination of all three. Recently, there have been opinions in the news about treating addiction as a combined disorder rather than a solitary one. Other medial conditions are cited as references which indicate that even strictly “medical” issues are behavioral issues.


Take a heart condition, for example. Healing and treating a heart condition is not strictly medical. Many heart condition patients who solely rely on medical healing, through surgeries and medications, often end up having persisting probems. Outside of their medical treatments, they do not change behaviorally to treat the problem. they continue to live high stress lives, eat fried foods loaded with sodium, consume high quantities of calories, and do all of the behavioral things that aren’t good for the heart. Psychologically, they are not willing to admit the reality of their heart condition. In denial, they continue in the behaviors which hurt their heart and can possibly cause their heart to fail, which would cost them their life. Surely, the doctors of such patients run out of patience and urge their patients over and over again to make a change. However, these doctors wouldn’t shame, criticize, condemn or consider arresting their patients. It is unlikely that a cardiovascular doctor would tell a heart patient that his behaviors were immoral, that he was worthless or a low life of society. That language is how many people treat addicts and alcoholics when they consider addiction to be a strictly behavioral issue.


Diabetics know better than to eat a high quantity of sugar. They risk developing severe medical conditions onto of their diabetes which could cost them their limbs, their health, or their life. Sugar is a difficult thing to give up. It tastes good, its in everything and it is a way to emotionally cope with the world through a reward system based on pleasure. Diabetics relapse all of the time. Unable to control their cravings and impulses, they eat the sugar they aren’t supposed to and face drastic consequences as a result. Yet, when a diabetic enters an emergency room, they are given the medications and treatments they need without question. Doctors do not tell diabetics they are unwilling, weak minded,  or bad people for continuing to make the behavioral choice to eat sugar. Addicts and alcoholics have a similar predicament. They know how devastating the choice to use drugs and alcohol can be. Until they commit to the treatments and lifestyles which inhibit choosing to use drugs and alcohol, they are prone to relapse. When they come into an emergency room, there are less resources for them to get help.


Simple Recovery offers a multiphase approach to treatment, giving clients and their family the skills they need to transition into living sober. Start your recovery today by calling us at: 888-743-0490