Addiction: The Only ‘Disease’ You Can Go to Jail For

can’t arrest your way out of addiction

The concept of addiction being an incurable brain disease or spiritual disease and was created almost a century ago. With the inception of the 12-step program, the regularly accepted belief was that not only is addiction an incurable disease, but you can only maintain control of it “one day at a time” after attaining a spiritual awakening as a result of working the 12 steps. And the program worked great initially for alcoholism, which is what it was originally intended to cure.

However, as time went on and drug use and addiction evolved, the effectiveness of the 12-step approach faded and a more comprehensive strategy to deal with addiction was needed, but the disease model lived on.

In my opinion, calling addiction a disease is the result of not knowing what else to call it. Doctors looking in on an addict’s behavior sat back, scratching their heads, not knowing how to make sense of a person compulsively using substances after receiving massive adverse consequences. They might have thought, “well it’s definitely a dis-ease,” or lack of feeling comfortable, relaxed, or at ease.

Well, right. Addicts don’t have ease within themselves. A lot of them hate themselves, are depressed, have anxiety, or deal with severe losses in life that influenced the path they chose. They are certainly at “dis-ease” and with their bodies completely dependent on drugs to function, that’s what makes them smoke crack and shoot dope over and over again.

Addicts have problems, and you know what, we’ve all got problems. Some people know how to deal with them and others gravitate towards things like drugs to actually not deal with their issues altogether.

Okay, so if addiction is, in fact, a “disease,” why do we arrest people because of it? That doesn’t seem fair. Shouldn’t we be getting them the proper treatment? The cops would never pull a guy over and arrest him for having his Novolog because he’s got diabetes. A person with cancer would never be prosecuted because they have cancer. That sounds ridiculous, right? But the cops will definitely pull over a guy and throw him in the back of his patrol car if he even resembles an addict or they suspect something. Realistically, what’s the difference?

There’s a lot of holes in the disease concept and this is just one of them. My opinion is that addiction is not a disease. It’s a behavioral problem. It’s having a lack of life skills and the only survival mechanism is mindlessly consuming substances, no matter what happens. Addiction is pure survival. And the thing the addict thinks is helping them survive the most is actually killing them the fastest.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.