There is no easy way to describe addiction. Essentially, addiction is a dependence on substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, nicotine, marijuana, or over-the-counter drugs. This strong compulsion to get and use substances has the ability to impact health, affect relationships, and even ruin lives. When someone has an addiction, they rely on the high that drugs or alcohol provide. In the interest of obtaining and using these substances, people with addictions tend to dismiss other commitments that are essential to live a happy and healthy life.
Signs of Substance Abuse
While addiction can affect everyone in different ways, there are some general signs and side effects that people with substance abuse issues may display. These signs include…
- Continuing to seek and use drugs despite consequences
- Requiring more of a substance to feel the same effect
- Giving up on activities and interests to use drugs
- Having compulsive and uncontrollable cravings for a drug
- Spending more time getting or recovering from drugs
- Focusing on rewards that are linked to addiction
- Having an inability to take steps to address their problem
- Wanting to quit and not being able to stop
When someone has an addiction, they lose all control. Their mind might be saying one thing, but their dependence will be saying another. A person’s world could be crumbling around them, but addiction will always win. This is because, like some other serious diseases, addiction causes long-lasting changes in the brain.
Disease Or Choice – Which One?
Addiction is a chronic brain disease and mental health condition that has the potential to worsen over time. It can be caused by a variety of behavioral, psychological, environmental, and biological factors, from being in drug-filled environments during childhood to having pre-existing medical conditions. Even though people do not have control of themselves when they are battling addiction, some still think that substance abuse is a choice.
When it comes to addiction, there is no choice involved. Addiction can be a miserable experience for everyone involved and leads to a decreased quality of life, so why would anyone choose it? The only choice that someone makes regarding substance abuse is to drink alcohol or use a drug for the first time. After that first use, they have little to no control. Some people can responsibly drink alcohol or use recreational drugs without forming a dependence, but others have a much harder time managing their use and controlling their urges.
Why Addiction Is Considered A Disease
Addiction might not be necessarily hereditary or contagious, but it is as dangerous and serious as any other disease. Like other medical conditions, addiction can result in other chronic conditions and even premature death. Even though people know the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, they can’t help but keep coming back to their drug of choice. This is due to the fact that addiction has the ability to change chemicals in the brain that are essential for daily functioning and decision making. A person could fully intend to stop using, but they aren’t able to do so because the chemicals in their brain have already been altered to want drugs. Similarly to other chronic diseases, addiction also comes with the potential for relapse. People may have worked to beat an addiction, but the disease can come sneaking back up on them at any time.
This disease is chronic and can be dangerous, but it is also very treatable. Today, there are many treatment options available to help people struggling with drug or alcohol addictions.
Treating Substance Abuse & Addiction
Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are designed to help individuals fight their addiction and begin the recovery process. Treatment methods may include talk therapy, CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy, support groups, family counseling, education, a regular exercise routine, meditation, a healthy diet, creating solid sleeping schedules, and more.
To learn more about the disease of addiction, contact our team of substance abuse treatment specialists by calling 267.719.8689.