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The Counseling Center

Letters to Society, Part 2

Letters to Society, Part 2

By: Lesley Scaggs, Undergraduate Intern at The Counseling Center

DISEASE OR CHOICE?


Historically, whether substance use disorders a disease or a choice is a hot debate. (Scroll Facebook for a minute, you’ll find a comment section to hop into and argue your side).
Substance use disorders have been misunderstood, stigmatized, and not discussed openly.
Unfortunately, because of this people who suffer from a substance use disorder are stereotyped and marginalized.


WHAT’S THE CONFUSION?


People will continue to debate the topic for multiple reasons.
They lack knowledge on the subject;
They have a rigid belief system;
Or because considering a substance use disorder as a choice sits better with their personal belief system.
A substance use disorder is a disease of the brain – not a moral dilemma. Still, individuals who are trying to change the course of their lives are left with labels such as drug addict, bad parent, worthless, thief… and the list continues!
As a child, no one dreams or aspires to become addicted to drugs. The confusion between choice or disease comes from the idea that ‘people choose to use drugs.’ Yes, you’re right people do choose to use drugs, but no one anticipates becoming addicted. Substance use disorders are a result of numerous things – of course using, but also:
-Brain Chemistry
-Previous Trauma
-Heredity
-Social/Community Environment
-Cultural Norms


LET’S TALK


Someone’s reputation should not be based or defined around the fact that they suffer from a substance use disorder. It is time we change the conversation and it’s time we attach new labels to these individuals! Below are some stories that individuals with a substance use disorder wrote and would like to share with society.

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