There are many opinions on whether addiction is a disease. It certainly runs in families and is seemingly hereditary, but does that mean a person is destined to become an addict?
The answer is no, as we have free will, but that doesn’t mean some people are more predisposed to becoming addicted to a substance, gambling, sex, etc… That’s why it’s critical that the most important message we teach our clients at the Kiloby Center for Recovery is that although someone may be more likely to become addicted, that doesn’t mean the label should follow you around your entire life. We have found that when a client continually tells themselves they are an addict, they are a bad parent, they are unloved, etc… that label or identity will continue to hold on and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A recent study* found that people with substance-use issues who see messages describing addiction as a disease are less likely to seek help, compared to those who read a message that addiction behaviors can change. These findings support our mindfulness approach at the Kiloby Center as we work to detach not only labels and identities with clients, but thought patterns that people use – many times unknowingly, that no matter what they do, they won’t get better. That idea is far from the truth. When clients drop their addiction identities, they are essentially getting out of their heads and into presence. When someone is present, they are not looking for escape through drugs, alcohol, sex, etc… They are back to truly living.