The results of a Gallup poll released today indicate the extent to which science has failed to communicate a pretty important message.
The Gallup organization surveyed close family members of people with alcohol or other drug addiction to find out what they thought were the main causes. The No. 1 factor cited, at 55 percent, was “lack of will power.”
The truth is that the causes of addiction are multifactorial. Plain and simple, to quote the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Addiction is a chronic disease similar to other chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. … No one chooses to be a drug addict or to develop heart disease.”
The only positive note in the survey is that at least half the respondents cited psychological illness as a major factor, not too far behind “will power.” But only about one-third said their family member had ever been treated for it.
Once those closest to the problem can recognize that their moral superiority may be part of the cause, we might see an improvement in recovery rates.