Yes, Addiction Really is a Choice

How can I say that addiction is a choice, rather than a disease? Let’s put it this way. When addictive behaviors end, who or what does the ending? Some people end addiction by going into rehab. Still, once rehab is over, they go home — where they choose to either resume the addictive behavior, or not. Others end addiction by going to AA meetings, even for the rest of their lives. Still, they’re not at AA meetings 24/7. They have to choose not to be addictive when away from meetings, and they have to choose to continue going to meetings, or not. Many people end addictive behaviors without getting professional help. They’re choosing, too. If addiction were a medical illness, it would stop because of a cure, medication or surgery imposed on the patient entirely from the outside. Cancer, when it’s cured, is eliminated this way. Addiction involves a combination of emotional conflict and behavior, not illness. It’s a complicated, troubling and disturbing behavior that sometimes takes a long time to overcome, and some people sadly never overcome. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s cognitive and behavioral in nature — not medical.