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Day against Drug Abuse: Is addiction a problem of will or deep rooted illness?


New Delhi, June 26: Today is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. It is a day that is observed to strengthen the movement against the social evil of drugs and addiction menace.

Day against Drug Abuse: Is addiction a problem of will or deep rooted illness?

Drug addiction is a massive social problem that has many facets. Many feel it is a problem of will and see an addict as someone who has willingly chosen to lead the compulsive life he/she is trapped in. That may not be entirely true.

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Self help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) who have been dealing with this problem for decades see addiction as a disease that needs cure. But, their literature also says that it is progressive disease, means that if allowed to continue, there is no way an addict can keep it under control. The disease will only worsen and any attempt to keep it in check by the addict himself is more likely to fail.

A section of Psychiatrists do agree that addiction is disease-like in the sense that the one trapped in it loses control and the obsession to consume substance only gets stronger. They see it as something akin to OCD or Obsessive compulsive Disorder which needs a behavioural therapy to cure.

AA and NA literature sates that addiction is a result of three factors - Physical Craving, Mental Obsession and Spiritual Bankruptcy. Medical science agrees with the first two factors, but remains apprehensive about the third one - Spiritual Bankruptcy. AA, NA's methods to deal with the problem is based on what is called as a 12-step program. Spiritual Bankruptcy essentially means that an addict will continue with his/her self-destructive despite clearly seeing how it is affecting his family, social relations and career.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two different groups that are active in over 90 countries. Main principles of both remain the same but operate independently as problems of alcoholics and drug addicts can be a little different.

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In fact, AA and NA comprises of people who have quit addiction and are 'clean' for years. These groups hold meetings in which addicts in recovery freely interact with those wanting to quit or those who have recently quit. Those who have recently quit are extremely vulnerable as addiction is such a powerful obsession that it pulls a person back into its fold. That is where meeting the recovering addicts is important as they share their own experiences about relapses, about dealing with cravings and about returning to normal life.

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