Is Addiction A Disease? 2 Ex Addicts Discuss

Matt:                     What’s going on guys, this is Matt and Greg with Project on Broken. Do us a favor, hit the subscribe button, hit the like button if you like this video, if you like our videos. Greg and I are talking a lot about addiction, our experience with heroin addiction specifically, and just some of the experiences we went through, this that have helped us, things that have hurt us.

Matt:                     In an effort to help spread this word, we would love for you guys to share this video, let people know about it if you have anybody in your life that you might think that they could benefit from this, share it. We would really appreciate that.

Matt:                     Today, we have a super controversial topic to discuss, and that is whether or not we think addiction is a disease.

Greg:                     Ah, fuck.

Matt:                     Yeah. This one, we’ve been hesitant to even talk about, because there’s a lot of videos that have gone really viral, and I don’t think for the right reasons, about addiction, whether it’s a disease or whether it’s not a disease and the thoughts behind it. We wanted to just share our opinion about the whole thing, and again this is just our experience about addiction, or with addiction, and it’s our opinion on this whole topic. So we’re not giving any advice. We’re not saying that you should look at it one way or the other, or whatever. But, just from two people who have gone through the ringer with addiction, this is kind of how we feel about it. That being said-

Greg:                     Me? You’re going to do that to me?

Matt:                     No, no, I mean.

Greg:                     No [inaudible 00:01:40] nah, I’ll get it. Man. Well, first of all it’s medically defined as a disease, right. So you can’t dispute that. It’s medically defined. They’ve done research. There’s stuff in the brain that’s going on. But for me, remember, look, I’ve gone through addiction, I’ve been there, I’m an addict, I have an addictive personality, but the word “disease” for me doesn’t correlate with addiction. I look at disease as something like cancer, or something like that. When someone is an addict, I get it.

Greg:                     My wife for example, she went to rehab for alcohol a year and a half ago, and when she drinks I can just see the change, right? When she used to drink, I could see the change in her body, and I never understood why can’t she put the alcohol down, right? But her brain obviously is made up a different way, where when she has alcohol, it changes things that go on. For me, it was obviously heroin. Now, I think it was the physical dependence more that kept me in that, where I didn’t want to get sick, but is either one a disease? Did she have a disease? I wouldn’t call it a disease. I mean, it’s the way you look at that word.

Greg:                     For me, she has an extremely addictive personality, and she likes what alcohol does for her so much that she just kept doing it, right? When she didn’t do it, it got to a point where she was doing so much that she would get anxiety when she didn’t have it, so then she would drink again, because alcohol can basically be like a Xanax, it’s a depressant, where when you do it enough your anxiety’s going to go up, and then when you do it again your anxiety goes down, because it calms it, and you’re kind of in this cycle.

Greg:                     She was like, once I went to rehab and I was out of it, it wasn’t that hard to quit.

Matt:                     Yeah.

Greg:                     You know what I mean? So, I mean, I don’t necessarily look at it as a disease. For the people who call it that, I get it. But I think it’s just the way that I look at that word. Again, I think of the kid with cancer. I think of diabetes, or something like that when I think of that word.

Matt:                     Yeah, and to get back to the point, I want to be very clear that we understand that addiction is medically classified as a disease. I don’t think that means that’s the healthiest way to necessarily look at addiction. I don’t know. There’s literally-

Greg:                     Come on. Tell what’s on your mind.

Matt:                     No, no, I will. But I mean I’ll just say that I have friends that are addicts, or alcoholics and it was almost an ongoing joke where we would be chugging booze and be like, “It’s a disease.” It’s almost in a joke, because it feels like an easy way out.

Greg:                     Easy way out, yeah.

Matt:                     Where it’s like, “It’s not my fault.” It’s just … I understand that there’s stuff, it’s hereditary, there’s stuff in people’s DNA that can make you more inclined to have an addictive personality, or become addicted to different substances. But again, I’m with Greg on this one. I think a lot of it has to do with … It’s a disease that you do have some control over. It’s not like cancer.

Greg:                     Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt:                     Or AIDS. Which again, I could dive down this whole rabbit hole because I think if a lot of people were healthier in general, they might-

Greg:                     Might get cancer.

Matt:                     Yeah, they might not deal with cancer as much. Or, type two diabetes for instance. That’s a disease, but it’s absolutely something that is dependent on your lifestyle, and your habits.

Greg:                     And the reason I was telling Matt to speak his mind, we talked before this video, we’re no … We know we’re going to get backlash from this. Those people who are very adamant about this being a disease, and it is. I mean, technically speaking, medically speaking it’s a disease. But, I think we’re speaking from the way we look at it, whereas if you don’t look at it that way, it’s kind of easier to get over, you know?

Matt:                     Yeah.

Greg:                     We know plenty of addicts they were like, “I just got a disease, it’s not my fault.” You know what I mean?

Matt:                     Right.

Greg:                     And I tell you, I don’t think we ever looked at it that way, so I don’t think we’re necessarily talking about it’s how it’s medically defined. It’s more how I look at it. And again, for me word is something that is really you have no control over. I know for most people they have total control over whether they’re an addict or … Whether they stay in that addiction or not.

Matt:                     Yeah. Well, one thing that it definitely leads to, and I think it’s an epidemic in the recovery community is this victim mentality behind addiction. It’s almost that thing where it’s like it’s not your fault. It’s the drug’s fault. You don’t have any control over this. You’re going to be an addict for the rest of your life. The way that that frames the whole situation is devastatingly negative to the person who’s going through it, because then it feels like I don’t have the power to control this. I’m not strong enough to control this. I’m not able to fight this disease. And that’s absolutely not the case. I think there’s a lot of things in the recovery community that go along those lines.

Matt:                     I got into a conversation the other day with some people about the stigma of drug addiction. It was this article that was shared, it said you shouldn’t call drug addicts “addicts.” And I was like all right, that’s fine, but when somebody goes into a 12-step program, they literally have to introduce themselves by saying, “Hi, my name is Matt, I’m a drug addict.” What the fuck are you talking about, you want to … The stigma a lot of times is coming from inside the community, and I think it’s what just keeps everything going. We want to look at outside civilians, or people who don’t have an issue with addition, and we want them to understand. Don’t call us addicts, because it’s going to hinder the way we think about ourselves. You need to look at the way your framing your addiction in your own mind, and not worry about what other people are classifying you as, whether it’s an addict or somebody with a dependency disorder, or whatever PC word is out now for addicts.

Matt:                     But it’s the same thing with the addiction. Yeah, medically defined as a disease, but how are you going to look at it? Are you going to look at it as something you have control over, and you can fix? That’s fine. You can call it a disease all you want, but just know that it’s a disease that you have the ability to cure.

Greg:                     Yeah. And there’s also the other end of the spectrum here, we’ve got these people that are like, “Fuck drug addicts an alcoholics, they do it to themselves,” right? And It’s not necessary true. I mean, they do it to themselves, but there is people that because of their brain makeup, they just get dependent on it so much easier.

Matt:                     Way more susceptible.

Greg:                     And it’s really hard to get out of. Especially something like heroin addiction, where you get the physical dependency and all that. I mean, alcohol too. I guess anything. I mean, alcohol’s everywhere, it’s so socially accepted. For those of you who look at it that way, where it’s like, “Fuck that, they do that to themselves, fuck them. It’s their fault.”

Matt:                     That’s not right either.

Greg:                     That’s not a good way to look at it either, I don’t think. We’ve been through addiction, look it was fucking hard to get off heroin, and methadone was hard to get off until I looked at it a different way, right? Until I prepared myself, till I started … My perspective changed, then it got a lot easier to get off. So, it really has a lot to do with how you look at it, I think.

Matt:                     Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Greg and I talk a lot about perception. Again, it’s mainly to do with you the person who’s maybe struggling with some sort of addiction, and all the things that are involved with it. Again, if you look at this coming from kind of a victim mentality position, where you’re like, “Um, I can’t handle this. This is a disease and I don’t have any control over it,” you’re going to have a much more difficult time navigating the waters of recovery, because you’re just going to look at yourself coming from a weak position. I think if you look at it as something that you do have control over, and that you can manipulate and change, and overcome, just the chances of you coming out on top are so much better, and it’s just mindset and perception.

Matt:                     No matter how the outside community looks at it, or the recover community or whatever, what’s most important is the way that you look at your recovery, and how you structure it in your mind.

Greg:                     Yeah, but I mean there’s obviously no disputing that medically it is defined as a disease. I think it all just depends on how you look at that word, you know? And the people who are like, “Fuck that, it is not a disease at all,” I think they’re more looking at something like cancer, you know you see children who are five years old that get cancer.

Matt:                     Sure.

Greg:                     That’s a fucking disease. You know, there’s different levels of diseases obviously, and maybe obviously it is medically defined as a disease, but the way my brain thinks, I don’t look at it more as a disease, even though it’s medically defined as that. And that’s just the way I look at it.

Matt:                     Well, I mean, I look at it a lot like type 2 diabetes, I think. It’s something where it’s like, hey, if you stop eating sugar, and you start exercising, and make this choice instead of that choice, you can work your way out of this thing. And we have … I have clients at my gym that have done just that. Where they’re pre-diabetic, and they go to their doctor they’re like “Hey these A1C levels are really out of whack, if you don’t deal with this, you’re just more susceptible to becoming a diabetic.” It’s the same thing with drugs. If you know that stuff is in your family, and you’re already susceptible to becoming an addict, you need to be aware of it. It’s just like a diabetic needs to stay the fuck away from sugar. You need to stay away from mind-altering substances. It’s just you have to make good decisions.

Greg:                     Good way to put it. Yeah. So yes. Addiction. Medically defined as a disease. I personally don’t look at it that way. Matt.

Matt:                     No. Me neither.

Greg:                     He doesn’t look at it that way either. So, if there’s … You got what … I don’t think this is something that needs to be continually debated. Medically it is defined as a disease. I think it’s just the way you look at it.

Matt:                     Hey, but you know what? To that point, what the fuck does it matter?

Greg:                     Right. Well, I tell you what it does matter is perspective.

Matt:                     Yeah. It does. I mean, but when you’re look … Again, if you just simplify everything, and I know that everybody’s talking about this stigma and this and that, the stigma is really you and yourself and how you’re looking at your whole addiction. Let everybody else call you what they want to call you. It is what it is. You have to create how you perceive your … the way you think about your addiction. You have to set that up in your own mind, and you can’t worry about if somebody’s calling you a drug addict, or this or that. It doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a disease or not does not matter. It has no effect on you making better decisions to make your way out of it.

Greg:                     You made a good point. Either way, it’s curable.

Matt:                     That’s right.

Greg:                     We both did it. We know it can be done, so I think that’s the main point of this video is no, you can get through it. Addict or not, you can get through addiction.

Matt:                     Absolutely.

Greg:                     All right. Make sure you subscribe below, we got plenty more videos coming, and we’ll see you all on the next one.

Matt:                     See you guys.


In Category: Addiction

Greg Morrison

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