If only I had AIDS. Then you would have some idea of what I was up against. You would see famous people wearing ribbons and speaking freely about my condition. You would walk, run and bike for greater awareness of my disease. If I had AIDS, you would understand that I need treatment, not scorn.
It’d be better if I had cancer. Then you wouldn’t tell me that what I’m going through is just a phase. You wouldn’t see my condition as a lack of willpower but the disease that it truly is. There would be telethons, walks and campaigns to raise funds to end it. If I had cancer you’d understand I need treatment, not a lecture.
I’d rather have heart disease. That way you wouldn’t look at me with shame. You and I could talk openly about my problem. There would be no stigma. You could ask your friends how their family members got help. Insurance might cover it. If I had heart disease you would understand I need treatment, not hate.
I’d be better off with a brain tumor. That way you wouldn’t put off getting me the help I need. You’d understand that my condition is only going to get worse and not to hope it will go away by itself. If I had a brain tumour you’d understand I need treatment, not indifference.
Jacob Sullum has it right:
Leaving aside the scientific, conceptual, and moral issues, I’m not convinced that viewing addiction as a disease leads to less oppressive policies, as opposed to giving the war on drugs a kinder, gentler veneer by calling coercive re-education treatment instead of punishment. But let’s take the Partnership for a Drug-Free America at its word: Addiction is a disease just like cancer or AIDS. Do police arrest people for having cancer or AIDS? Do doctors treat people for cancer or AIDS against their will? Are people with cancer or AIDS disqualified from various professions because the government refuses to license them? Until the partnership’s prohibitionist propagandists start taking on these policies, I can’t even give them credit for believing their own bullshit.