Chemical Dependency is a primary, progressive, chronic, fatal disease of unknown etiology, characterized by the abuse of mood-altering chemicals (alcohol or other drugs) to the point of dysfunction in one or more areas of the person’s lifestyle. We are a chemical using society. We use chemicals:
- To relieve symptoms of illnesses.
- To relieve stress.
- To facilitate socialization.
- To feel better.
Some people develop the disease of chemical dependency.
- Definition of a ‘disease’ is “any deviation from a state of health with a progressive, identifiable set of symptoms.”
- American Medical Association defined alcoholism as a disease in 1956.
- Chemical dependency is a primary disease.
- It has its own symptoms which are identifiable across the population of its victims.
- It has a predictable prognosis if the addiction-prone individual continues to use chemicals.
- It is not a symptom of a more serious problem.
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Chemical dependency is a progressive disease.
- A long-term plateau of observable symptoms is not possible.
- The physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms become worse when chemical use continues.
- The physiological tolerance for the chemical can increase or dramatically decrease even during abstinence.
Chemical dependency is a chronic disease.
- There is no known cure.
- The victim is always susceptible to pathologic chemical use even after years of abstinence.
- The symptoms of the disease can be arrested.
- The victim must abstain from using all mood-altering chemicals in order to recover. “Once a pickle, never a cucumber again.”
Chemical dependency is a fatal disease.
- It is a terminal illness unless the chemical use is permanently stopped.
- Chemical dependency deaths are often misrepresented on death certificates.
- Physical deterioration (heart disease, strokes, blood pressure problems, etc.)
- Accidents while under the influence of chemicals.
The disease model holds that:
- It is not a willpower issue.
- No one caused the disease.
- The person with chemical dependency cannot return to controlled use of alcohol or drugs.
- Abstinence and recovery—living a comfortable and responsible life without the use of chemicals—is presently the most effective long term treatment of chemical dependency.
- It does respond well to specific forms of treatment.