Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

There are some professionals in the drug rehabilitation field that state that addiction is a disease like heart disease or diabetes. This categorization of addiction with physical ailments implies that addiction can be managed with medication. This is a very tidy premise when you want to make it easy to bill insurance plans for addiction treatment.

It is also very often easier and faster to “treat” a person by providing him with a prescription than to help him learn how to address and handle the problems that were created by his addiction. That can be a long task but in the history of the Narconon program, has always been a rewarding one.

William Benitez, the man who started the first Narconon program in Arizona State Prison, stated his beliefs on the subject of addiction very clearly by saying: I realized that drug addiction was nothing more than a ‘disability resulting when a person ceases to use abilities essential to constructive survival. I found that if a person rehabilitated and applied certain abilities, that person could persevere toward goals set, confront life, isolate problems and resolve them, communicate with life, be responsible and set ethical standards, and function within the band of certainty.”

Over a 45-year span, this has been the basic premise of the Narconon program. And year after year, the program has enabled seven out of ten graduates to return to clean and sober lives once they go home.

Briefly, the Narconon program is composed of the following steps:

  • A drug-free withdrawal step that supports the recovering addict with generous nutritional supplementation and gentle re-orientation exercises and physical assists
  • A communications skills component that helps a person engage once again with his present environment and the people around him
  • A thorough detoxification step that utilizes time in a sauna, moderate exercise and nutritional supplements to flush out old stored drug residues
  • A quick but efficient boost to one’s ability to study and understand the materials that follow that are going to provide improved life skills
  • Intensive practical application of communications principles that result in a brighter perception and improved control of one’s person and one’s thoughts
  • Study to achieve an understanding of the different kinds of people one will encounter – those who are safe to associate with and those who will lead to trouble and who could destroy sobriety
  • Study of the principles of personal integrity, how it is lost and how it can be restored, with application to one’s life
  • Learning how any situation can be turned from negative to positive, with application to those areas of life that were damaged by one’s addiction to resolve any situations that remain
  • And finally, learning a common-sense moral code that not only helps one understand what may have gone wrong before but will also serve as a reliable moral compass in the future.

Along the way, each person is guided and supported through the choices and decisions he or she must make to fully leave an addictive lifestyle behind. As they make their way through each of these steps, it is remarkable how those further along in the program help and encourage those who are just beginning. Helping others achieve sobriety is also part of each person’s recovery.

The proof is in the result. After honest completion of this entire program, as stated earlier, the majority of graduates know how to stay sober and do so.

So if restoring personal integrity, doing a thorough detoxification and all the rest results in recovery, then it looks like addiction results from a disability, not a disease of the brain or a chemical imbalance of some kind. Just as Mr. Benitez described.

This approach to addiction recovery is called holistic in that is addresses the whole person, his or her entire package of health, problems and abilities. It is sometimes called alternative or non-traditional because it does not follow the principles of addiction treatment subscribed to by medical schools and government agencies. Their treatment methods may include the prescription of antidepressants or long-term use of the synthetic opiates methadone or buprenorphine, all of which are addictive.

Addiction ruins millions of lives in every corner of our world. Having a successful, drug-free program of recovery, Narconon centers bring this effective program to every continent and add to it a proven drug education curriculum that helps reduce the number of young people starting to use drugs. The goal is a drug-free world. As more people recover from addiction and as more young people make up their minds to avoid drugs, the goal is being achieved.