Is Drug Addiction a Disease or a Crime?

Whether or not you are aware of the drug epidemic in the nation, you may still find yourself wondering, “Is drug addiction a disease? Is addiction a choice? Or is it just a crime?” The nation certainly has continued to treat addiction as a crime, but just because it is treated that way doesn’t mean it should be. Getting an accurate understanding of addiction is critical, especially now that the nation is facing such a horrific epidemic and in need of the most effective treatment options and prevention services to combat it.

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Is drug addiction a disease? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a disease. In fact, NIDA explains addiction as a complex, chronic brain disease. So, if addiction is categorized and labeled as a disease, why isn’t alcohol and drug addiction being treated as such? This is the question that many addiction recovery and mental health advocates continue to press.

Why Is Drug Addiction Treated Like a Crime?

With more people coming to terms with the fact that addiction is a disease, it’s a wonder why this public health problem is still being treated as a criminal issue. Some may see that drug addiction is not the type of issue that the nation can arrest itself out of but rather an illness that requires treatment for the best rate of recovery. While drugs and related charges remain criminal, it is important to realize that addiction itself is not. The stigma on addiction deserves to be dropped and proper awareness should shed light on the need for treatment rather than punishment.

How Society Could Treat Drug Addiction

How else can society address drug addiction? More focus should be on finding evidence-based treatment practices to help curb addiction at the source. In addition to awareness being spread about the disease of addiction, there should also be a light shed on mental health conditions, especially because it is not unusual for addicts to suffer from both an addiction and mental health issue. By focusing on the root causes of addiction and treating them at the source, people can be restored back to health rather than penalized over their illness. Addiction involves a loss in the power of choice, so to continue punishing individuals who are addicted to drugs doesn’t make sense.

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