Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The blurred lines between addiction and disease

Nowadays, anything can be addicting whether that be love, drugs, or that delicious piece of chocolate cake. The severity of an addiction can vary from either side of the spectrum. (Let us take a moment to comprehend that in this day and age, there are summer camps made tech-free to ween teenagers off from using their favorite devices.)

Surely, the most addictive substances are the ones we were we always warned about in elementary school – alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Alcoholism is classified as being a disease, but there is nowhere near as much discussion as to whether or not being addicted to tobacco is.

Alcohol and Tobacco 1
A man drinks and smokes in a typical Downtown Fullerton bar. Photo credit: Christian Fletcher

Which brings me to the question: is tobacco addiction a “disease”?

Certainly not.

I would assume every family has at least one relative somewhere whom is an alcoholic, smoker or drug addict. Now, just because that person is addicted to drinking, smoking or using drugs, does not mean you’re going to be as well. (Otherwise, I would be doomed.) We would constantly have an influx of addicts if that were the case.

It has been proven that genetics will make up half your potential to become addicted to a substance or activity. Some would argue it’s the primary factor in what determines an addict, but your life decisions make up the rest of the potential. Who is to say that you don’t have a choice in who you will become because of your genetic makeup, which you do not get to choose?

You are in control of your life and have the power to steer it into whichever direction you’d like. It’s kind of like that cheesy line from Spiderman, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

The risk of subjectivity to addiction can be attributed to personality types (how impressionable/impulsive someone is) and their environmental factors (i.e. how often someone is in situations where an addictive substance is being used).

Let me be the one to say it is possible to successfully resist peer pressure. Being the only one in my friend group who had never drank alcohol or smoked anything throughout high school, I sometimes received backlash. Although, it didn’t matter since I was taking precaution knowing my family history.

Addiction starts off with indulging in a thing or action. Indulging becomes a habit, and a habit later becomes a lifestyle. It’s a series of unfortunate events – not a disease.

A study at Yale University recently discovered cheese contains casein, also known as a chemical found in addictive drugs. Would an addiction to cheese become classified as a disease?

I sure hope not.

Alcohol and Tobacco 2
Night life in America typically consists of smoking and drinking. Photo credit: Christian Fletcher

Many sleep deprived college students and adults going off to work in the early hours of the morning are addicted to caffeine. Surely, it’s not nearly as detrimental to your health as smoking, but there is a dependency formed in which some people could not imagine a life without drinking coffee. I would never consider this a disease, just a habit that’s become routine.

When I think of disease, I think of something that is out of your control. For example, if a child is diagnosed with ADHD, there is nothing that child could have done to prevent him/herself from developing it. Chronic smoking is a slippery slope, the rush of the first drag can cause someone to constantly fiend for cigarette.

Too much of anything is going to bring you nothing but problems. I found out the hard way when I was 14 and drank five glasses of milk one night. Little did I know, I was lactose intolerant…So of course, smoking too much is going to lead to some serious issues.

Smoking tobacco is the cause of diseases such lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, etc. These diseases can very well lead to death, which proves the cliche but true line, “smoking kills.”

There are ways to quit smoking if or when you’re ready. According to Mayo Clinic, 10 ways someone can successfully quit craving tobacco include nicotine replacement therapy, avoiding triggers, delay and distract your craving, chew something (not tobacco), don’t have the notorious ‘just one’, exercise, relaxation techniques, call your moral support, reach out online for support and remind yourself of the benefits that come with quitting.

An addiction to tobacco is not permanent if you don’t want it to be. If you want to quit smoking, know that it’s possible you can.

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