Should addiction be treated as a disease?

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  • An image has emerged of two young men passed out in a busy city centre subway holding what appear to be heroin syringes in their hands.


    They were pictured slumped up against a wall near Belfast's Albert Clock early on Thursday evening surrounded by drug paraphernalia.


    The photograph, which has been widely shared on social media, has been referred to as a symbol of the drug scourge sweeping the country.



    With out current medical knowledge, we may never be fully able to cure addicts, but at least we could help them in some way. As well as whatever mental issues that led them down the path to addiction, once the drugs and/or drink take hold, it becomes a physical illness too.


    It's perfectly valid to say let them rot, but there is increasingly evidence that people who get addicted to drugs and alcohol have something in their brains and DNA that makes them susceptible to addiction.


    The two young men pictured have a whole life ahead of them, but will probably not reach 30, let alone 40. Why is this allowed to continue?


    We are a rich country, isn't it about time we start to help the most vulnerable in our society? No person should have an existence like that shown in the picture.


    What a waste of human life.

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  • It's a tragedy, but no less so than alcohol addiction, which is a sort of socially accepted addiction.


    Humans take drugs and drink for various reasons, but when you see very young people like this passed out on the street with needles stuck in them (and this is an image that can be reproduced worldwide), then you know that something is wrong with societies and that drugs are offering them an escape.


    It might be useful to discover the various reasons for wanting to escape. Especially in societies where many now have almost everything in comparison to the extreme lack in the lives of our forebears.


    I don't think addicts should be demonised, treated as evil or seen as engaging in "illegal behaviour". This is so morally supremacist that the problem will never be looked at objectively if the way addicts are viewed is not changed. Also, making drugs illegal has been like making prostitution illegal. It didn't put a stop to it.


    There are many things that consume the human spirit today, but many of these issues have also consumed people through history. It's always best not to allow sanctimoniousness or fascist health concerns to get in the way of discovery.

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  • Hospital patients who smoke or drink to be helped to quit

    Smokers and problem drinkers who are admitted to hospital in England will be given help to quit or cut down, to reduce demands on the health service.

    The measures are part of a long-term plan to be announced over the next few days by NHS England.

    It said addiction to alcohol and tobacco were two of the biggest causes of ill health and early death.

    And the right support could save lives and help people stay fitter for longer.

    I think this is good news, but as I said in my OP about drugs, the reason people drink too much is likely related to mental issues. Until we as a society really start to tackle mental health, then addiction in all its forms will continue.


    Should there be a carrot and stick approach here, or would that be too harsh, especially if most addictions are mental issues? Ie, you go into hospital for treatment for drugs, drink, smoking etc, but if a person doesn't start to cut down, they lose access to treatment.

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  • Should there be a carrot and stick approach here, or would that be too harsh, especially if most addictions are mental issues? Ie, you go into hospital for treatment for drugs, drink, smoking etc, but if a person doesn't start to cut down, they lose access to treatment.

    I can easily get addicted to many things. I am a long term smoker, and have even been addicted to particular video games to the stage where I would play all through the night if certain circumstances arose.


    I never tried drugs, thank goodness, else I would probably have got hooked on those too. Alcohol was consumed in excess during my younger days, but i rarely touch it now. Gambling has never interested me.


    If treatment was dependent upon me stopping smoking then I would refuse the treatment. The only way I could stop is if they kept me sedated for a very long period, and even then I am not confident I wouldn't start again. I get stressed very easily and cigarettes help me. I am a total nightmare and life is too painful on the occasions I have tried to stop. I tried vaping for a full 12 months but it gave me other problems, so I went back to smoking cigarettes.


    Addiction is a prop for many people, and is much needed. Unless you can replace one 'prop' with a less harmful 'prop' then it won't work for those people.

    Mark Twain — 'Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.'

  • addiction can turn people into monsters. the shenanigans that happen in school over drugs,drink and girls are just horrible




    (im counting girls as an addiction because in school ive seen people care about nothing but it

  • Addiction is a prop for many people, and is much needed. Unless you can replace one 'prop' with a less harmful 'prop' then it won't work for those people.

    Sugar for me. I've never tried drugs, Never smoked, never even tried a cigarette and my worst drinking session would be a couple of shandies. :) Sugar is my prop/bane of my life.

    addiction can turn people into monsters. the shenanigans that happen in school over drugs,drink and girls are just horrible

    I would have thought drugs would've been far the worst out of those options, but going by what you're saying, I maybe wrong there.:)

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  • Over the last 5 years I’ve stopped smoking and drinking I did it on my own, I mentioned it to the doctor when I first started whilst on a unrelated issue, he noted it down and on subsequent visits over other things asked me how I’m going on. He offered a number of aids which I refused.


    I also started to increase my H2o to 2.5ltrs per day.


    The last question was my most important

    “If giving up fags & booze & caffeine is so good for you why do I feel like shit in the morning it takes me a good hour to come round” when before I’d wake and be ready to go.


    Answer


    Because your getting good sleep ? not artificial shallow sleep, you have no stimulants keeping you sleep-awake, your body will come round naturally you are not forcing your engine to start with nicotine and caffeine, your obs are fine.


    Apart from the mornings I feel like a different person & look like a different person, I like the new me the family like the new me, my bank account likes the new me, I handle life differently, infact I like the new me, there.....I said it.

  • No I don't think addiction should be considered a disease, on the whole most addictions begin with a person making a choice, choosing to drink alcohol, choosing to smoke, etc.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • Revo Good for you on giving up those vices and as you're finding out, your body will thank you too.


    Ron Manager I agree that it starts off as a choice, but as people become more "used" to that choice, especially with drugs, it turns into a addiction, although as Fidget says, perhaps prop would be the more accurate term for it.

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  • I agree that it starts off as a choice, but as people become more "used" to that choice, especially with drugs, it turns into a addiction, although as Fidget says, perhaps prop would be the more accurate term for it.

    But we are not debating whether it's an addiction or not, the question posed was "Should an addiction be treated as a disease?" and in my opinion no it should not be treated as a disease, while the effects of some addictions may seem to be disease like, it's unfair to compare them to diseases as I don't know of anyone who would actually choose to have a disease.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • But we are not debating whether it's an addiction or not, the question posed was "Should an addiction be treated as a disease?" and in my opinion no it should not be treated as a disease, while the effects of some addictions may seem to be disease like, it's unfair to compare them to diseases as I don't know of anyone who would actually choose to have a disease.

    I agree with your comments, however, some people do choose a lifestyle that puts them at high risk of a disease, ie. unprotected sex in countries that have a high incidence of HIV and AIDS, going abroad without the recommended vaccinations, and drinking tap water in countries where it isn't recommended, etc.

    Mark Twain — 'Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.'

  • I agree with your comments, however, some people do choose a lifestyle that puts them at high risk of a disease, ie. unprotected sex in countries that have a high incidence of HIV and AIDS, going abroad without the recommended vaccinations, and drinking tap water in countries where it isn't recommended, etc.

    Oh you will always get idiots who take risks either they are too thick to realise the implications or they simply don't care.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • Some clot has even suggested that obesity should be treated as a disease. Whilst there will be the small minority where disease actually causes the obesity mostly it's people just eating too much of the wrong foods combined with lack of simple exercise. Just walking for an extra 20 minutes a day can make a disproportionate change in metabolism.


    I think doctors need to be much more forceful in getting people to chance their lifestyles, be it smoking, drinking or pigging.

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  • Oh you will always get idiots who take risks either they are too thick to realise the implications or they simply don't care.

    I agree, again, but that raises the question of who should be denied treatment. The addicts (if they stop feeding their addiction) and the idiots (if they promise to stop being idiots)? What about the physical risk takers, ie. mountain climbers? What about the obese?


    As said earlier, if treatment was dependent upon my stopping smoking, then I would probably be refused the treatment. It's an easy decision for me, as I have had my life and am now retired. I would never want to extend a life where I lost my independence and became totally dependent upon others.


    What if my illness was totally unrelated to smoking? I would be damned annoyed if my treatment was withheld while others with self harm lifestyles were still treated without any demand of a lifestyle change.

    Mark Twain — 'Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.'

  • But we are not debating whether it's an addiction or not, the question posed was "Should an addiction be treated as a disease?" and in my opinion no it should not be treated as a disease, while the effects of some addictions may seem to be disease like, it's unfair to compare them to diseases as I don't know of anyone who would actually choose to have a disease.

    But the effects on the body are as harmful, Ron, hence the question.

    I agree, again, but that raises the question of who should be denied treatment. The addicts (if they stop feeding their addiction) and the idiots (if they promise to stop being idiots)? What about the physical risk takers, ie. mountain climbers? What about the obese?

    Exactly the whole reason why I posed the question.:thumbup::thumbup:


    Mountain climbers, by definition, are risk takers, especially those who choose to go up Ben Nevis in the middle of winter. Should they be denied treatment for their preventable "addiction" "prop?" It's hard to know where to draw the line, or whether there shouldn't even be one in the first place. But the flip side is:


    What if my illness was totally unrelated to smoking? I would be damned annoyed if my treatment was withheld while others with self harm lifestyles were still treated without any demand of a lifestyle change.

    If you were denied treatment for something which was something out of your control, you would be very annoyed if others like drinkers, drug addicts were getting money spent on them.


    The NHS is like a money pit where everything gets sucked into it. It cannot carry on like that.

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  • Some clot has even suggested that obesity should be treated as a disease. Whilst there will be the small minority where disease actually causes the obesity mostly it's people just eating too much of the wrong foods combined with lack of simple exercise. Just walking for an extra 20 minutes a day can make a disproportionate change in metabolism.


    I think doctors need to be much more forceful in getting people to chance their lifestyles, be it smoking, drinking or pigging.

    But as Fidget says, it's a prop. A prop for what, maybe far beyond what the NHS can deal with.

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  • I agree with your comments, however, some people do choose a lifestyle that puts them at high risk of a disease, ie. unprotected sex in countries that have a high incidence of HIV and AIDS, going abroad without the recommended vaccinations, and drinking tap water in countries where it isn't recommended, etc.

    Some scientists say that some people are addicted to sex and will take extreme risks. I don't know anyone addicted to drinking tap water in other countries, though, so yes that's clear cut.

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  • But the effects on the body are as harmful, Ron, hence the question.

    And are well publicised so if someone takes or does somthing to themselves knowing that it could possible harm themselves, then tough shit.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

  • What is your opinion on the following:


    Risk takers (which includes mountain climbers, addicts, idiots, and the rest) would need extra insurance for illness/injury which is directly attributable to the risk. The risk may be difficult to define, but let's start somewhere along those lines.


    The obese would need insurance for potential diabetes, lung cancer for smokers, the cost of recovery and treatment for mountain climbers, etc.


    Then we have the problem of people not being able to afford additional insurance, so what happens to those people?


    It's a complete can of worms, but something has to give. The NHS cannot be all things to all people, so where should we draw the line?

    Mark Twain — 'Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.'

  • I think for the mountain climbers, surfers, horse riders, bungee jumpers etc, there has to be a presumption that because they can afford to do those activities, then they must insure themselves. If they do not and are involved in a incident, then they get billed.


    I think for the smokers, drinkers, sugar addicts (like me) and worst of all, drug addicts, the problem is more complex. Nobody wants to be on the streets with needles dangling from their arms (see first post of this thread), nobody wants to be a alcoholic wife basher, nobody wants to be fat etc, so these vices are as you say Fidget, are props. The question is who pays for the props, society as a whole, or the individual directly affected. And what about what causes the props in the first place?


    NHS treatment for mental disorders is practically non-existent already for the very ill, add in fatties, drinkers, smokers etc and it becomes impracticable to help everyone. But the cost of alcohol, sugar, smoking on the NHS has skyrocketed. Something does have to give.

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  • And are well publicised so if someone takes or does somthing to themselves knowing that it could possible harm themselves, then tough shit.

    True. And things like smoking has been tacked over the years with a great degree of success, ie the cigarettes cannot be sold on open shelving, are in plain packaging and with nasty pictures of disease on them. So, if after all that, people still choose to take up smoking, should it be "on their heads, be it?"

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  • It's a fine line. What about couples who take fertility drugs and end up pregnant with quads but refuse to have some aborted? That would put a huge cost on the NHS. Different choices would have made that cost unnecessary.


    When it comes to paying for additional insurance, why should someone pay extra when there are thousands of people who have never paid a penny in National Insurance? I mean those idle layabouts who refuse to work; not those who are, or caring for, elderly, children or the disabled.


    Whatever they decide, it has to be made clear to everyone exactly what is covered by the NHS, and what isn't, and then people (the sensible ones) can make appropriate choices over their lifestyle.


    My first move would be to demand the NHS become a national service, and not the international service it currently is. It may cause more admin, but it would also act to prevent those who come to the UK purely to save the cost of treatment in their home country. Other countries manage to achieve this, so why can't the UK? It would also enable further charges (via insurance) for those with high risk lifestyles.

    Mark Twain — 'Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.'

  • On immigrants coming to the country and using the NHS, it was one of the conservative MPs (someone like IDS) who made the same point as you. He said that anyone coming here should have medical insurance and if they don't, they can't come. A very simple solution to the current International Heath Service we currently have. And as you say, once the backoffice systems are setup to deal with handling insurance, then there is the possibility of extending it.


    I agree that it needs to be clear what the NHS will do and won't do. I would not have IVF on the NHS, as but one example. It is a fundamental issue for those affected, they are not "ill."


    I think in answer to my own OP, I would treat addiction similar to a disease, but there has to be some responsibility and cost placed on the individual too. So, the cost for drinkers, smokers etc would be split between the NHS and individuals involved.


    BUT...


    Then we have the problem of people not being able to afford additional insurance, so what happens to those people?

    It all comes back to that and does the NHS pick up the full cost or not? If it does, then it creates a two tier system where people are treated differently.


    A can of worms indeed.

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  • Addictions centre in the mind and become obsessions - so it could be a form of mental illness. I was addicted to alcohol for many years, found recovery 'AA' and have been sober a long time now. I am into my 30th year of sobriety and abstaining from alcohol addiction. I take the advise I am am given through my recovery Progamme - it works because I want it to work, and NO, AA has not become another crutch for me to lean on. If it is, then it is a far better thing I have done than ruin my life with alcoholic drink.


    I lost an Army career due to getting drunk at the wrong times, and could have ended up in the Military jail near Colchester in Essex. Obsessions can become addictions in many forms, from shopping, gambling, sex, smoking, drugs etc, etc - even overeating. Some folks just cannot stop eating and end up as massively obese often weighing at 600 Lbs. Some folks just don' twant to stop their addiction or know how to. There is help out there for addictions - it is just that you need to really want to stop.

  • At Christmas drunk/drug tanks were erected to ease the pressure on A&E, I would support a swipe card system that charges a nominal fee to recoup the costs of setting up and staffing.


    Obviously some people would argue against it.

  • I agree with that Revo.

    Addictions centre in the mind and become obsessions - so it could be a form of mental illness. I was addicted to alcohol for many years, found recovery 'AA' and have been sober a long time now. I am into my 30th year of sobriety and abstaining from alcohol addiction. I take the advise I am am given through my recovery Progamme - it works because I want it to work, and NO, AA has not become another crutch for me to lean on. If it is, then it is a far better thing I have done than ruin my life with alcoholic drink.


    I lost an Army career due to getting drunk at the wrong times, and could have ended up in the Military jail near Colchester in Essex. Obsessions can become addictions in many forms, from shopping, gambling, sex, smoking, drugs etc, etc - even overeating. Some folks just cannot stop eating and end up as massively obese often weighing at 600 Lbs. Some folks just don' twant to stop their addiction or know how to. There is help out there for addictions - it is just that you need to really want to stop.

    Thanks for posting your experiences here. Was there a specific reason you started heavy drinking, or was it just like most people in that you liked the taste and wanted more of it. Well done for staying dry.:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:8)


    I certainly don't weigh 600 Lbs, but I'm waging my own war against sugar at the moment and someone else I know is losing their battle.:(


    The problem is, how does the NHS deal with all this if it is a mental disorder? Look at how many people are overweight now, or do drink too much. How many clinics would it take to help everyone?


    I'm not sure there is a easy answer to all this.

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  • Quote

    Oh you will always get idiots who take risks either they are too thick to realise the implications or they simply don't care.

    Everyone will take risks to varying degrees relative so their circumstances everyday. It's very naive to surmise people are idiots or to too thick to know better when assessing that risk.


    With that logic there must be no greater moron than those who would drive in a car for 2 hours a day to get to and from work. Greater chance of injury or harm, look at the stats.


    No more NHS care for anyone stupid enough to get injured on a road, you knew the risks, or just weren't bothered they might affect you?


    Should only the most upright citizens who don't take any risks at all be entitled to NHS or should we not assume we are perfect, more entitled or better than the next person when it comes to getting that care.


    I don't think disease is the right category for addiction but it's without doubt a condition regardless of how it came about, and those suffering should be treated like everyone else (as far as treatment goes drug abuse is a minor cost overall and a fraction or the relative cost for treatments of smokers and drinkers).

  • Should only the most upright citizens who don't take any risks at all be entitled to NHS or should we not assume we are perfect, more entitled or better than the next person when it comes to getting that care.

    And besides, who gets to decide what is upright?


    Great post.:thumbup:

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