Addiction 101: What To Know
Addiction is an extremely complex situation. Many people believe that addiction is simply giving in to vice, but it is a brain disease created by compulsive substance use. It means that you will stop at nothing to use or obtain your substance of choice, despite harmful consequences.
Often, users have an intense focus on using a certain substance. It can be one or more substances, such as alcohol or drugs. This substance takes over their life and keeps them from achieving their goals.
Despite this, there are many effective treatments, such as drug rehab, and people can recover from alcohol or drug abuse. This recovery leads to a healthy, productive, and sober life.
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What Can You Develop an Addiction To?
People can develop an addiction to almost anything in life, whether to food, drugs, alcohol, or sex. There are a few common substances you can develop an addiction to:
- Heroin and any other opioids
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Reasons an Addiction Develops
If you are someone with an addictive disorder, you may be aware of your problem. The trouble is, once you have become addicted, you may not be able to stop it. It can lead to problems with health, work, and family. Using drugs or alcohol can lead to premature death and preventable illnesses.
There are many reasons you might develop a substance abuse issue:
- To feel good, including the feeling of being “high”
- To feel better, such as to relieve stress or self-medicate
- To improve performance with drugs such as methamphetamines or Adderall
- Out of curiosity or peer pressure
- Genes: Scientists have found that genetic factors contribute to addiction.
- Physiological factors: Some individuals have variations in their liver enzymes that metabolize substances and influence substance abuse.
- Gender: Whether it is due to society or biology, males are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than females.
- Personality: Impulsivity and sensation-seeking relate to addiction. Impulsivity can cause relapse and the inability to control one’s urges.
- Trauma and abuse: Exposure to either trauma or abuse creates a greater risk of developing an addiction. Trauma and abuse can also affect your coping abilities or create more stress.
- Mental health: People struggling with depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, or bipolar disorder have a weakened ability to manage strong emotions. Addiction takes advantage of this weakened ability.
- Family: Strong family relationships can prevent addiction, and the opposite is true: weak family relationships can increase risk. If someone close to you struggles with an addictive disorder, you are at an increased risk of developing an addiction. Additionally, divorce or poor parent relations can increase risk.
- Accessibility: The availability of alcohol or other substances at a young age increases risk. Accessibility can mean having alcohol at home, easy access at work or school, or people around you who normalized using a drug.
- Peer pressure: People are heavily influenced by the people around them. Additionally, people seek validation from their peers. During adolescence and the rest of their lives, people may attempt to use substances to fit in. Unfortunately, this increases the risk for addiction to develop.
- Employment status: Having a job can influence a use disorder. Typically, this is not related to drugs but instead associated with alcohol.
Symptoms of Addiction Disorders
Unable to Control Cravings
You have impaired control and the inability to cut down on usage, especially if you cannot control your substance use.
Having an addiction can prevent you from living your life efficiently. Addiction can cause delays at work, prevent you from graduating from school, or affect your relationships with those you love. Many social problems exist because of addiction.
Using substances despite knowing the risk is a symptom of addiction.
Development of Tolerance
Tolerance is the need for a larger amount of a substance to obtain the same effect. Increased tolerance is a sign of addiction.
Although withdrawal symptoms are different from drug to drug or with alcohol, this is the first sign of physical dependence and addiction.
Mental Illness and Addiction
Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with mental illness. Mental illness can exist before addiction, but addiction can make mental illness worse.
The most common issue that brings both mental illness and addiction together is when addiction is self-medication.
Examples of self-medication include:
- A depressed person uses marijuana to feel better
- Someone riddled with anxiety drinks to feel less awkward in social situations
- You struggle with anxiety attacks, so you take a benzodiazepine, like Xanax, to calm your symptoms without a doctor’s help
- Low energy and lack of motivation cause someone to take a stimulant such as Adderall, cocaine, or crystal meth
Effective Forms of Treatment
The first step to recovery is recognizing the addiction itself. There are many effective treatments available. Despite this, the recovery process can be extremely difficult if you cannot recognize your substance problems.
Because addiction affects many different parts of your life, treatment is often a combination of different treatment plans. Sometimes, medication and therapy can be effective. Other times, all co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems need evaluation for a successful recovery.
Often, friends and family will be the first step in achieving treatment when they stage an intervention.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a planned process done by family and friends, typically along with a doctor or other professional. This person might be an alcohol and drug counselor or an intervention professional. It can also include the leader of your faith or other people who care about you.
When you stage an intervention, all of the people in the addicted person’s life will speak. They will come together to discuss the consequences of this addiction and ask this person to accept going to treatment.
For the intervention to be effective, it must include:
- Examples of destructive behaviors and the impact it has made on family and friends
- A predesigned treatment plan with goals, guidelines, and steps towards sobriety
- What each person will do if you refuse to accept treatment
Medication in Treatment
Although the goal of treatment is to avoid addiction, specific medications can control drug cravings. These medications can also help relieve symptoms of withdrawal.
Many forms of therapy can help addicted individuals understand why they are addicted and how to get past it. These forms of therapy may teach addicted persons how to handle stress, develop higher self-esteem, and address mental health problems. These forms of therapy treatment may include:
- Therapeutic communities: Includes controlled, drug-free environments such as sober houses
- Outpatient programs
- Self-help groups: This includes Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. There are also family member groups known as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon
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Are You Struggling With an Addiction?
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact us at Resurgence Behavioral Health. We even offer a free insurance verification so you can focus on treatment instead of payment. We offer various services to help you get through this part of your life and go towards a healthy future.
Contact us today.