Q. Why is addiction called an “insidious” disease?
A. Because it is.
Insidious: working or spreading harmfully in a subtle or stealthy
manner. awaiting a chance to entrap; treacherous. harmful but enticing.
Developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming
apparent. —Webster’s Dictionary
“Insidious” means to spread harm in a subtle manner; to entrap in a seductive way. Addicts or alcoholics may be the last ones to realize their dependence problem. The drug works in a seductive manner and its victim often doesn’t realize what has happened until it’s too late—a housewife realizes that she needs a glass of wine to keep her hands from trembling; a college student realizes that he drove home the previous night but can’t remember doing so; a businessman finds that he needs to have multiple drinks throughout the day to maintain his façade.
At this stage, the addict is often living in denial, trying to prove to himself and the world that he is in control. No one likes to admit that they have been tricked. This is exactly what the drug is able to do. For the user, it is as though their best friend has betrayed them. Because of this slow and gradual process, most addicts aren’t aware of what is happening to them and don’t understand the changes taking place in their bodies and minds.
When a user’s brain ceases to function normally, he is no longer able to see clearly. People in recovery will often look back and say that it was as if their brain had been hijacked. This is why intervention is so important.
Excerpted from the revised/updated edition of: Why Don’t They Just Quit? What families and friends need to know about addiction and recovery
Part 5: Q&A with Joe