Is Addiction Immoral?

Is Addiction Immoral?

In Addiction by Tree House Recovery

Due to the ability to study the etiological factors associated with drug and alcohol addiction, we have come to a deeper understanding that there is a combination of biological/genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors driving the disease. This information ought to be enough to convince skeptics that it is not a moral failing that causes the addictive process. For example, if an individual experienced a severe trauma whereby their foundational understanding of how they expected the world to work was shattered, it becomes more easily understood how this may lead them down the path of addiction. The addiction is essentially used as a tool to keep the individual in a perceived state of comfort and security. The potential of having previous experiences of trauma combined with a genetic propensity towards becoming addicted to substances provides evidence that points contrary to moral inadequacies that are assumed to be factors causing addiction.

Now that we have discussed the fact that morality does not play a role in “contracting” the addiction, we can move onto the discussion of morality in the context of addiction recovery. If we define morality as the proclivity towards engaging in behaviors that will benefit the individual as well as the larger society as a whole, we can then begin to have a real dialogue about the role morality plays in addiction. Another way to view this proposition is by accepting the understanding that, what happens to us in our lives is not our faults; how we respond to these events, however, is our responsibility. Accepting voluntary personal responsibility is a moral endeavor because it takes into account the fact that in order to act morally, we need to be responsible for our behaviors. In taking responsibility for our behaviors, we can then begin to harvest new modes of being and perspective that will allow us to see how avoiding this responsibility not only affects our personal growth, but the harmony of our tribes.

As addicts in recovery, we should be able to alleviate ourselves from the shame and guilt associated with the antiquated view f addiction as a moral failing. Conversely, however, we cannot afford to lack effective responses in the realization of the severity of our disease. While addiction is not intrinsically immoral, apathy, complacency, and indifference in the face of our addiction is an immoral approach in relation to ourselves, our loved ones, and the community.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.