Addiction to alcohol, drugs and sex: yes, they are real diseases

With Tiger Woods in the media spotlight, the debate has sprung up yet again.  Is overindulgence in vices like sex, drugs and alcohol a symptom of an authentic illness, or is it just plain poor decision-making?

When an individual has an addiction to something that doesn’t sound like fun, for example self-mutilation or vomiting, people are less apt to argue about the addiction’s validity as a disease.  But when it comes to things that the average person enjoys doing and is capable of doing in moderation, like drinking or having sex, the public is much more likely to assume that all people have the same level of control that they possess when engaging in these activities.

Labeling those whose lives are crumbling to pieces around them as the result of an addiction, like Tiger Woods, as ‘sleazebags’ or ‘idiots’ is unproductive.  Infidelity and alcohol/drug abuse are never good hobbies to take up, but there is much more at work than poor decision-making for those addicted to destructive behaviors.

True addicts need treatment if they want to return to living normally.  Without treatment, their addiction will continue to run (and ruin) their lives.