Assumptions of Addiction

Those who feel that addiction is a “disease” is following The Disease Model of Addiction. This model has been developed by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to lead individuals to believe that all addiction is completely biological addiction. Once an addiction is formed, there is nothing the addict will be able to do to stop it. This model includes many myths, assumptions of addiction, and ideas that may be harming addicts instead of helping them.

Other people do not like to call addiction a “disease.” These people feel that a disease is something that people cannot control, like cancer or diabetes, while an addiction is something that they can control. It is important to understand these opposing arguments in order to choose the best philosophy for your unique long-term recovery process. Here are 10 assumptions of addiction that could be harming addicts from The Disease Model of Addiction that need to be questioned:

10 Common Assumptions of Addiction

  1. Addiction is purely biological. Instead of taking into consideration the environmental and social factors that are included in addiction formation, the disease model believes that the biological factors of addiction are primary. It is important to realize that life experiences can heavily result in a person’s chances of forming an addiction when they grow up. Understand that addiction is a way that people cope with the stresses they face in their lives.
  2. Addiction makes people lose control over their behavior. An addicted individual will not be able to make sound decisions when under the influence of their substances, according to this model. The person cannot make the choice as to how involved they become involved with their addiction. Addicts need to understand that they can change the direction of their life at any point in time.
  3. Addiction is forever. This model believes that addiction is the same as any life-long disease; there is no getting rid of it. This hurts the addict because it makes them believe that there is no hope for their recovery; addicts need to know that they have the power to come out of their addiction if they have the right resources. Adopt the mentality that you can beat addiction instead.
  4. Addiction completely takes over the person’s life. There is nothing that the individual can do once they have formed an addiction. Addiction controls a person’s physical and mental health, personal life, and work obligations. This thought deprives the addict of any hope that they may have of gaining control over their lives again.
  5. Addiction is hereditary. Because this model enforced the idea that addiction is inherited and biological, the addict’s children will also have the disease. As a result, the disease model encourages the genetic theory of addiction, and the child will battle addiction no matter what the parents do. This hurts the child since the addict believes that their addiction is inevitable, so they may not even try.
  6. Addicts are in denial that they have a problem. The disease model allows people to believe that all addicts are in denial of their addiction and that they believe there is nothing wrong with them. This feeds the negative stereotype of addicts and results in their fight against addiction being more difficult. It is important to identify the possible causes of forming an addiction so that you are better equipped to solve it.
  7. Addiction requires medical and spiritual treatment. This model leads people on the path of long-term medical treatments and spiritual groups that they will be in for long periods of time. Lifetime memberships and constant medical attention is a tactic used by the disease model to fuel these organizations to their benefit. Realize that recovery requires self-awareness, a change to their environment, and new coping mechanisms.
  8. Addiction is a “primary” disease. The disease model makes people ignore the external factors of why people could possibly form an addiction in the first place. They believe that addiction is the first problem; not that addiction can stem from a series of other problems. Many people actually develop addictions as a result of other things that have happened in their lives.
  9. Model recovering addicts only. The disease model wants addicts only to focus on surrounding themselves with recovering addicts because they are the addiction expert. It is important for recovering addicts to surround themselves in a normal, healthy environment, as well as to learn new techniques for coping with stressors, triggers, and temptations.
  10. Addicts have a label. This model encourages addicts to label themselves as an “addict.” Placing a label on yourself makes it hard to see yourself as anything different, which can make the transition out of addiction more difficult. Labeling themselves as an “addict” gives them this title for life in the back of their minds, but they need to realize that they don’t have to abide by it.

Even the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a disease


Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors (NIDA).

The Disease Model doesn’t work because it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy among individuals; it allows them to believe that they are truly trapped in their own cycle of addiction that they can’t get out of. In order for a successful long-term sobriety to become achieved, addicts need to know that they are in complete control of their situation and that they do have the power to turn their lives around for the better. This model deprives people of their own power. Nobody deserves to feel helpless and out of control of their own situation.

For more information on addiction, or the assumptions of addiction, call Stop Your Addiction today. Whether you need guidance finding resources to help you or your loved one escape the addiction cycle, long-term sobriety is possible. Call Stop Your Addiction today to get started on your journey to a healthier lifestyle, no matter what assumptions of addiction have been put in place.

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