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Study: Calling Addiction a ‘Disease’ Blocks Recovery

Recent research has found that people with substance use problems who are told addiction is a disease rather than a changeable state are less likely to recover.

Co-Author of the research Sarah Desmarais said that telling people they had a disease ensured they “felt like they had less agency” as “people with diseases have no control over them.”

Richard Joy of Recovering Man questions the disease model in a short video below:

For this study, the researchers enrolled 214 men and women who screened as positive for substance-use problems.

One hundred and twenty-four of the study participants received the growth mindset message, whereas 90 participants received the message that addiction is a disease.

The growth mindset article described various factors that can contribute to substance abuse, and stressed that there are multiple ways for people to address their addiction.

The disease article described the changes in the brain that take place during addiction.

The researchers found that study participants who received the growth mindset message reported stronger growth mindsets and more confidence in their ability to handle their addiction, relative to the study participants who received the disease message.

Watch: How to Face Relapses

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