Roc & Doc: Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?

Much has been debated over the years about the nature of addiction. Some people reduce it to simple moral failure, while others see addiction as a disease. Roc & Doc tackle this difficult issue head on in this episode.

Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health Center Counselor Rennie Grant (Roc) and Psychiatrist Dr. Tony Massey (Doc) answer your questions about addiction and recovery.

Some people reduce addiction to simple moral failure. Addicts are simply “bad people.” Others take the more complex “disease model” view of addiction.

How it starts

No one argues that addiction may start as a choice. The disease model doesn’t dispute that. But once a substance is introduced, then a new dynamic occurs, and this has to do with the complex reality of brain chemistry. Example: What started as a needed prescription for pain medication for some people became full-blown heroin addiction. Or what began as drinking at parties eventually progressed into alcoholism.

Does the word “disease” provide an excuse?

Those who contend that addiction is a choice say that calling it a disease gives addicts an excuse to stay the way they are. But proponents of the disease model say that while a person may not be responsible for a disease, they are still responsible for their recovery. The same way a person who has diabetes is responsible to listen to their doctor and take the appropriate medication and make the needed dietary adjustments.

It’s complicated

The frustration is understandable. But there is no redemptive value in labeling addicts as losers. Addiction has more to do with neuroscience than ideas about morality.

Addiction cannot be reduced to oversimplifications. It’s convenient to make moral assertions about people stuck in addiction but the real issue has to do with the effects of drugs and alcohol on brain chemistry and this is a much more complex issue than simple caricatures can define.

The goal here is to shine some light on some pretty pervasive misinformation out there and to explain the more complicated reality of addiction and its effect on neural pathways.

Learning more

This 13-minute video is worth watching in its entirety. There are helpful illustrations and valuable information to help you on the path to living your best life ever.



Get Help Today!

We welcome the opportunity to help you in your road to recovery. If you’d like to learn more about Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health Centers, contact us at:

  (888) 331-5251


Is Addiction a Disease or a Choice?