Betty Ford Center on Why Addiction is a Disease
It's difficult for many people to think of addiction as a disease. In Harry Haroutunian's new book, Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults (Hazelden, 2016), he addresses why it's important that addiction is referred to as a disease.
The physician director of the Professionals Program at the Betty Ford Center, Haroutunian is board-certified in family medicine and addiction medicine and is a co-author of Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Hijacks our Brains: The Science behind Twelve-Step Recovery (AuthorHouse, 2011).
In an interview with The Desert Sun, he explains why addiction is a disease—and why it's vital people treat it as such.
"Understanding the disease concept of addiction is critically important, both to the drug addict or alcoholic and to that person’s family," Haroutunian says. "Society as a whole also needs to reframe the message that it sends to those struggling with addiction. They are not weak, morally corrupt, or unworthy of being helped. They need medical care and the guidance of skilled professionals. As the shame and stigma associated with addiction dissipate, people struggling with this disease are better able to begin treatment, and find the strength and willingness to begin and then maintain a program of recovery."