The Disease Model Taken too Far

Published on November 2, 2016 by in Success Stories



In June of this year, a new President by the name of Rodrigo Duterte was inaugurated in the Philippines.  President Duterte has been in the news a lot lately for various controversies, one of which is his version of the “War on Drugs” and it has been likened to the Holocaust.  Duterte has ordered the death penalty for not only drug dealers but also drug addicts.  In a response to critics comparing him to Hitler he said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews.  Now, there are 3 million drug addicts… I’d be happy to slaughter all of them.”

 So far, over 3,300 Filipinos have been killed.  There are even “vigilante” crews who are killing drug addicts without facing any penalty and none of these people have to face going to trial.  I find this deeply disturbing and I know I am not the only one.

 How does trying to solve addiction get taken to the point where people are being mass murdered?  The only answer lies in the fact that a person (in this case a President of a country) must view that the situation he is trying to resolve (in this case drug addiction) cannot be solved.  Period.  His justification of killing thousands of drug addicts and drug dealers with a promise of more deaths to come can only stem from the fact that he does not think there is any answer or relief from drug addiction.  

 This is an example of the disease model of addiction taken way too far.  I used to hear people comment that the disease model is scientifically proven but now that more time has gone by, more scientists have actually moved away from the disease model in the other direction.  The “addiction is a disease with no cure” theory has played out in the Philippines with hundreds of Filipino drug abusers and drug dealers getting murdered.  

 One time when I was in a treatment center that used the disease model, I was told by a counselor that addiction is like cancer.  That it was a disease a person is stuck with for the rest of their life and while it may go into remission, it is never cured.  Honestly, from the second I heard that, I lost all faith in that program.  That also gave me the best excuse in the world.  “Mom, I know I relapsed again but it’s my DISEASE so it’s not my fault.”  No accountability.  I have always questioned that if addiction was really a disease, where’s the cure?  And if it is like cancer, where’s the research?  Think about it, there is not a single organization working for the “cure” to addiction.  Don’t even tell me that Suboxone and Methadone are it.

 Duterte has resorted to shooting addicts, because he is operating on the misinformation that there will be no end to their addiction.  It is terrifying that a leader of a country has resorted to this and in fact there are many Filipinos who actually support him in his efforts.  What happens if other countries hop on this bandwagon? It proves to me that we are going at this all wrong.

 In a perfect world there would be a magic little pill that you could take to cure your addiction.  I’m sorry to tell you this, but that is never going to happen.  Ridding addiction takes a lot of work and determination, but it can be done.  Someone resorts to using drugs, because of an underlying problem.  No one wakes up one day and just starts using drugs without a preemptive reason.  

 After I went to the program that told me I would never be cured, I told my mom I would never go to treatment again.  I figured what’s the point if there is no cure?  

 That’s why my mom stumbled across Narconon; she wouldn’t give up on me.   I remember being baffled she found a place that didn’t think I had a disease.  Of course I was skeptical and rebellious, but I did the program.  I got honest with the staff because they made me feel comfortable and they never told me what was wrong with me and what my problems were.  They left that up to me.  No counselor or doctor I have ever been to before did that.  I got honest with myself which made the rest fall into place.  I really got to the bottom of why I even started using drugs in the first place and for that reason, I would say I am “cured.”

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