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Psychiatrist Dr Neha Bhave Salankar on whether addiction is an illness or choice

Addiction is defined as the ongoing use of mood-altering substances or activity, such as alcohol and drugs, despite adverse consequences.
Dr Neha Bhave Salankar

Dr Neha Bhave Salankar is an MD in Psychiatry, who works as a Consultant Psychiatrist in Nagpur. Read what Neha has to say about addiction – whether it’s an illness or it happens by choice?

Addiction is defined as the ongoing use of mood-altering substances or activity, such as alcohol and drugs, despite adverse consequences. The inherent tendency in most of us is to negatively judge a person who is suffering from any addiction. Our judgement implies, we believe there is an element of voluntariness in the condition.

So what causes addiction?

A percentage of the population has a biological predisposition to addictive behaviours; factors like genes, early-life experiences, such as isolation or abuse, certain personality problems, such as impulsivity and poor coping skills can contribute to a predisposition to addiction. However, a predisposition alone is generally not enough to cause the disease. Often, a person is influenced by social factors, such as peers, societal and familial norms and associated psychiatric problems (e.g. presence of anxiety, depression).

Addiction is ?disease-like? in the sense that it persists even though its costs outweigh the benefits. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated a genetic predisposition for addiction. The idea is that if genes influence an activity, then it can’t be voluntary. Drug-induced brain changes are also an evidence in this direction. The fundamental assumption is that individuals make choices that are in their best interests. Since addiction is self-destructive, the logical implication is that addicts cannot be voluntarily choosing to use drugs. Since the symptoms of diseases are involuntary, then addiction must be a disease.

However, there is another school of thought, which believes that addiction is voluntary. Society commonly believes that we all possess free will, and that human behaviours arise out of it. But do we really possess free will? Looking at things from a scientific perspective, our behaviours arise out of a complex interplay between our genes, our early childhood environment and our present environment.

The former two are clearly beyond our control, and the last one, arguably, too is beyond us, as it is largely determined by the earlier two. So, if the predisposing factors of our behaviour are beyond us, clearly, the resultant behaviour too has to be beyond control. In fact, this very concept forms the bedrock of the medical model? of addictions, i.e. addictions are ?illnesses, and that an addict needs empathetic handling, not unlike a person with a physical disease.

I am reminded of a learned patient of mine, who, albeit in an inebriated state, had said to me, Doctor, I am not a bad man. I am a weak man. I couldn’t agree more.

The ideas and information expressed are solely by the columnist and not by Nation Next.

Also read: Psychiatrist Dr Neha Bhave Salankar on domestic abuse, effect on mental health and more

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Nagpur Next

1st COVID-19 case in Ramdaspeth crops up near Cabinet Minister Vijay Wadettiwars residence

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Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur
Vijay Wadettiwar

For the first time, a resident of Ramdaspeth tested positive for Coronavirus on Saturday. The patient, who is said to be residing in an apartment near Cabinet Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation in the Maha Vikas Aghadi and senior Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwars residence (behind Tuli Imperial), is said to be a middle-aged woman. 

The patient is reportedly connected to a resident from Mominpura. However, nothing concrete as of now can be said about the same. More details are awaited.

Also read: Nagpur: 91 test positive in 24 hours making COVID-19 tally rise to 1266

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Nagpur Next

Nagpur: 91 test positive in 24 hours making COVID-19 tally rise to 1266

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Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur

Nagpur COVID-19 tally as on June 20 rose to 1266 after 91 people tested positive for the virus in past 24 hours. Out of the total 91, while 69 patients belonged to Naik Talao/Bangladesh, 11 from Shantinagar, four from Lashkaribagh, three from Ganeshpeth, one from Uppalwadi, one from Ramdaspeth, one from Mehendibagh and one belonged to Mominpura.

Out of the total, 823 have been cured and over 333 are currently being treated upon.

Also read: NMC Chief Tukaram Mundhe storms out of meeting after Corporator calls him blot on Saint Tukaram

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Nagpur Next

Nagpur man discovers 4-month-old foetus in gutter; cops suspect illegal abortion

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Nation Next Newsroom | Nagpur

In yet another shocking incident, a resident named Rahul Tumane discovered a 4-month-old foetus lying in an abandoned condition behind his house (near plot number 13, behind Kajal Bar and Restaurant area) in Pardi inside a gutter. 

Police inspector Sunil Chavan told Nation Next that a four-month-old foetus, wrapped in a cloth, was found lying inside a gutter near a house on Thursday night in Pardi. Chavan also informed that the foetus was sent for an autopsy to Mayo Hospital and the reports are awaited. Police have suspected the possibility of abandonment after an illegal abortion. 

A case has been registered under Section 318 (Concealment of birth by secret disposal of a dead body) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the basis of a complained filed by Tumane. 

Also read: Nagpur: Zone 5 Police team seize four trucks carrying illegally mined sand

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