Addiction is a Psychosocial Disorder

Addiction |

Addiction is a Mental Illness

A psychosocial disorder is a mental illness caused or influenced by life experiences, as well as maladjusted cognitive and behavioral processes. Addiction is not always thought of as a mental illness. However, experts have agreed that in fact it is.

Today, many people still believe that addiction is a personal flaw. Or they believe that addiction is a personal choice, or what happens when someone does not know how to cope with life.

However, experts have learned enough about addiction to know that it is in fact a mental illness. It is a not a personal flaw, a personal choice, or the result of one’s inability to cope. Instead, it’s an illness of the brain. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

“The resulting compulsive behaviors that override the ability to control impulses despite the consequences are similar to hallmarks of other mental illnesses.”

Factors Of an Addiction

There are many factors that go into the development of an addiction. However, one characteristic of addiction is that it is often the result of making consistent choices to use a substance (or engage in a behavior) that are harmful towards oneself. In other words, as someone continues to make choices to drink whenever they are angry, he or she is making a cognitive choice to behave in a certain way  that is harmful towards oneself.

These are maladjusted cognitive and behavioral choices, meaning that they are unhealthy choices that help one adjust to the demands of life.

Because of this, one significant aspect of recovery is learning how to  cope with life in healthy ways. In fact, recovering from addiction includes an array of psychosocial treatment modalities.

These Might Be Any of the Following:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This form of therapy changes thinking and belief patterns to help prevent someone from acting out based on a negative thought or belief. CBT  works well with anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, and addiction.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – This form of therapy is particularly successful with Borderline Personality Disorder, eating disorders, conduct disorders, and addictions. It uses mindfulness techniques along with learning healthy coping tools to adjust to life in healthy ways.

Psycho-education – This is any form of education that has to do with learning about one’s diagnosis, its causes, and how it is treated. Psycho-education about addiction might also include learning how the brain is affected by the illness.

Other forms of psychosocial treatment include Interpersonal Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, and any treatments that address the combined presence of a mental illness and substance addiction, which is often referred to as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.

Certainly, another significant part of psychosocial treatment is learning daily living skills. Sometimes, addiction can become so severe that someone ends up homeless, for instance, and homelessness can come with poor hygiene. Learning daily living skills might include learning how to shower every day, how to manage money, how to cook for yourself, and how to stay physically healthy.

Addiction is a psychosocial illness that requires psychosocial treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, contact a mental health professional for immediate support.


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