Addiction: An Overview

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been told about the seriousness of addiction. Addiction can refer to a dependency on alcohol or drugs, or even an activity like gambling or sex.

But there are so many important facets of addiction that most people don’t fully understand. It’s important to educate yourself about the most basic facts about addiction so you don’t fall victim to common myths and misconceptions. That way, if you or someone close to you suffers from addiction, you’ll know what to do.

Addiction Is a Disease

This may be the most fundamental thing people should know about addiction. Just like cancer, emphysema, or the flu, addiction is a disease. Someone with an addiction has a compulsive need to fulfill that is near-impossible to control. Repeated use of alcohol or drugs, or sometimes certain activities, will change a person’s brain chemistry to the point that they’re mentally and physically crippled by their compulsion. So it’s important to note that someone with an addiction is not a weak person; they have a disease that requires medical treatment just like any other person diagnosed with a serious illness.

There Are a Variety of Factors That Lead to Addiction

It’s counterproductive to blame someone for their addiction. The truth is we don’t completely understand what causes addiction or why some people become addicted to certain substances and others don’t. However, addiction experts have identified a number of factors that can contribute to addiction, with many experts believing that genetics play an important role. Studies show that those with family members who became addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to struggle with addiction as well. People who have experienced significant emotional trauma can also be more prone to addiction.

The belief is that these people will self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, or another vice and end up becoming addicted. Similarly, people who suffer from emotional complications, including depression and anxiety, often struggle with addiction as well.

Treating Addiction Is Possible, But It’s Not Easy

Treatment for addiction is often a lifelong battle. This is why you’ll hear older people who have been sober for 30 years still refer to themselves as an alcoholic. With that being said, a proper treatment program can help a life-long addict recover from their disease enough to resume a normal life.

Of course, it all starts with acknowledging one’s addiction and actively seeking help. This in itself isn’t a cure, but it’s a necessary first step in the process.

It’s also important to recognize that addiction treatments will vary from one individual to the next. Methods such as talk therapy, group therapy, proper dieting and exercise, animal therapy, acupuncture, and medication are just a few of the possible treatments for addiction. Of course, what works for one person may not work for another. Each individual must explore different methods of treatment and find the ones that can put him or her on the road to recovery, which is why a professional assessment is essential.

Relapses Are Common

Forty to sixty percent of those who successfully complete an addiction rehabilitation program have a relapse. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their treatment failed. Like other chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes, treatments need to be adjusted periodically or else symptoms of the disease will begin to manifest. For some people, a relapse may even be considered a necessary part of their long-term recovery. As long as someone with an addiction doesn’t allow a relapse to spiral out of control, they don’t have to start from scratch. It’s merely taking one step back before taking two steps forward.


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