Addiction is “not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex,” the American Society of Addiction Medicine declared this week. Instead, the society notes, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”
In other words, addiction is not just about the actof raising a bottle to the lips, drawing deeply on a cigarette or bingeing guiltily in chocolate bars in private. There just might be something amiss in your head that compels you to behave that way.
“The disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions,” said Michael Miller, past president of the ASAM who oversaw the crafting of the society’s new definition, in a statement.
No kidding. Well do I recall that time as a kid when I caught my mom crawling around on all fours with a herniated disk trying to find a cigarette somewhere in the house. Out of intellectual curiosity I asked her (kids are so cute) whether -- right at that moment-- she’d rather have a huge bowl of lovely ripe strawberries with lots of sugar and lashings of whipped cream all over them or a stubbed-out cigarette covered in mud rescued from a rainy gutter. “The cigarette end,” she said, and shot me a dark look.