Editor’s Note: Isaiah Daniels is a San Quentin inmate who is a drug and alcohol counselor for prisoners.
Substance dependency is the reliance and/or habituation of something deemed harmful to you. It is usually drugs and/or alcohol.
Some people viewed substance dependency as a moral problem. They looked on a person dependent on substances, as weak-willed who cares for nothing or others. This view has changed. Medical professionals and other professionals have come to realize that substance dependency is a disease that responds to proper treatment, as would any other illness.
In 1956, the American Medical Association gave formal recognition to the disease concept. The recognition of substance dependency as an illness implies that:
The illness can be described as the compulsion to use.
The course of the illness is predictable and progressive; it will get worse.
The disease is primary, not just the symptoms of another underlying disorder.
The disease is permanent (always mindful of a potential relapse).
Like most diseases, substance dependency is terminal if left untreated.
Addiction can be associated with some form of guilt, anger, fear, shame, or pain as the primary drives. The individual may even exhibit denial, which prevents the person from recognizing the severity of their situation and their responsibility to deal with the serious problems in their lives.
It constitutes harmful use if the use is causing continuing disruption in personal, social, spiritual, or economic life. The user needs to stop or face serious consequences.