Addiction is a disease, not a weakness


Re Christine Flowers_ Feb. 10 Other Views column, The selfish act of death by drugs: Flowers is correct that ad...


Re Christine Flowers_ Feb. 10 Other Views column, The selfish act of death by drugs: Flowers is correct that addicts are weak and selfish _ of course they are, that_s the nature of addiction.

Flowers wrote that she can sip a glass of wine every once in a while. That_s nice, but others can_t and it_s not because they_re inherently weak or selfish. A single glass leads them to an endless spiral of addiction. They are alcoholics, addicts. Yes, most people can have an occasional glass of wine, bottle of beer, shot of whiskey or other intoxicating substances, legal or otherwise, and that_s the end of it.

But many other people are physically predisposed toward addiction and can_t stop at one drink, pill or whatever it is that makes them high. That first taste is just the beginning of an endless spiral of abuse. This condition has been documented, verified, tested and confirmed by scores of studies. It_s as much a fact as gravity.

But for some observers like Flowers, the issue seems to be one of character, of discipline, motivation and morality. _Just stop doing it. Get clean. Don_t hang around with the wrong kind of people in the bad part of town. It_s simple._

Podcaster and comedian Marc Maron, a recovering addict (there_s no such thing as a _recovered_ addict. Recovery is a work in progress.) wrote recently: _Drug addiction is the closest true parallel to demonic possession that I know of. Having been possessed myself, there is no worse feeling than being held hostage in your own body and mind by a demon that is hijacking and dictating all of your decisions. The demon is using your will to kill you in the name of relief and euphoria._

So, sure, Philip Seymour Hoffman was extravagantly talented, financially comfortable, blessed with three children and reportedly sober for many years. What was the problem? Why couldn_t he just stay straight? Why was he so _weak,_ so _selfish?_

He was not weak or selfish. He was an addict. The insidious nature of addiction is rooted in the addict_s physical and psychological being. No matter how many cautionary movies, parental admonishments and societal pressures are brought to bear, addiction is a disease that subverts the most basic human instincts: self-preservation and survival.

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