Objective: The goal of the paper is to get a deeper understanding of how to understand drug addiction medically.
Methode: I have used a matrix with three traditional understandings of health; a medical view, an ecological view and the view of The World Health Organization. These different views are measured against five different cases, ranging from a well established diagnosis like Parkinsons disease, to a person who is a soccer supporter, a condition which very few will reckon as a disease. Two cases with drug addiction are measured against these different conditions.
Discussion: The three traditional understandings of health and disease all present good arguments on how to understand drug addiction, emphasising different aspects of the condition. There are findings indicating that biophysiological changes, both genetically and in the area of transmitter substances, are the foundation for development of drug addiction. In persons with behavioural addictions you can sometimes see a similar pattern.
Still drug addicts do not always fit into the common understanding of having a disease. Disease is commonly defined as an unwanted deviation. The question is; not wanted by who? Among the drug addicts there is a great variety in the desires of wanting to leave the addiction.
Defining drug addiction as a disease will have consequences for the addict and for the community.
Conclusion: Defining drug addiction as a disease is tempting, especially for the people personally involved, but it can undermine the drug addict s own initiatives to get out of the addiction. It is important with a balanced understanding between disposition and action in understanding this phenomenon.