The Disease

The Caring Center of Wichita understands addiction as a chemically induced complex brain disease that disrupts the way critical brain structures interact to control judgment, decision-making and behavior. It is a very misunderstood disease because it is primarily manifested in behavior rather than through physical symptoms associated with other diseases. The inability to regulate behavior is the key feature of the disease that is very hard to understand and accept because these behaviors are often perceived as poor choices and conscious decisions rather than greatly compromised choices and decisions. In short, we believe, “Drug addiction is a disease that erodes a person’s self-control and ability to make sound decisions, while sending intense impulses to take drugs or alcohol.” (NIDA – National Institutes of Drug Abuse).

Using addictive drugs gives a feeling of well-being and alleviates bad feelings, which leads to continued use of substances in the face of catastrophic consequences. Addiction, or “substance dependency”, results from using mind-altering substances too much, too often. The repeated use of drugs and alcohol ultimately changes the brain until it becomes normal with the substance present and experiences withdrawal symptoms when not. As the disease progresses, patients have difficulty managing their feelings, thinking, and controlling their behavior. They also may drink or do drugs to cope with feelings of depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. Over time, individuals lose control and their behavior becomes increasingly impulsive and unpredictable. The powerful disruptive effect of the disease of addiction in all areas of patient’s lives ultimately leads to addictive beliefs, defensiveness, guilt, shame, anger and hopelessness manifested in patients suffering from the disease.