Why Addiction is an All-Encompassing Disease

The Harsh Reality of Substance Abuse

Many people refer to addiction as an all-encompassing disease and the reality is that this couldn’t be more accurate. Addiction is much more than just a bad habit; it is a disease that will rob you of your friends, family, career, and life as a whole. Addiction does not discriminate and everyone is at risk of developing this progressive and chronic disorder. If you have a family history of addiction then you are at a higher risk of developing this disorder which means you must be diligent in managing any symptoms or signs of addiction if they become present.

There is often a skewed view of what addiction is, as oftentimes, individuals assume that addiction is a choice and happened due to lack of willpower. This is simply not the case. Addiction occurs to do a chemical imbalance in the brain and when an individual has this chemical imbalance and experiments with drugs or alcohol, they are at risk of developing a dependency on it.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Close to half of those who struggle with addiction and substance abuse also have an underlying mental illness that is the driving force behind their addiction. It takes a combination of the right medication in order to manage the mental illness and addiction treatment modalities to stabilize the individual.

Some of the most common types of mental illnesses that addicts suffer from are:

  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Anxiety
  • Clinical Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Mental illness is a large contributor to addiction as many individuals who struggle with mental illness will try to ‘self-medicate’ in order to suppress their overwhelming feelings. They will often resort to drug and alcohol use in an effort to ease their mental health symptoms and this is where the addiction begins. Once they begin to feel the effects of substances, they will continue to abuse them in order to mitigate the mental health symptoms that they are experiencing.

Reasons for Addiction

While addiction can be acquired, it is typically a result of three main factors:

  1. Age
  2. Genetics/Family History
  3. Environment

Age: The younger you start to use drugs or alcohol, the higher your risk of developing an addiction to these substances is.

Genetics/Family History: Individuals can be born with a specific genetic makeup that makes them more susceptible to the disease of addiction. Additionally, those who have parents or who are addicts are more vulnerable to the disease of addiction.

Environment: The environment plays a large role in the onset of addiction as exposure to substances of abuse as well as peer pressure and the stresses of everyday life can drive individuals to become addicts.

While addiction is not a disease that can be treated, it is one that can be properly managed and overcome with the right therapy. Inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment, as well as dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders, can help stabilize individuals and assist them in overcoming their addiction. Mental health programs are often integrated into treatment modalities which help those who struggle with both mental illness as well as drug or alcohol addiction.




If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.