In today’s society, it isn’t unusual to be related to or acquainted with someone who has an addiction of some type. Although alcohol is the number one drug of choice, an increasing number of people are falling victim to the addictive qualities of prescription drugs. Of course, there are also the illegal drugs, marijuana, food addictions, sex or porn addictions, and hundreds more addictive substances or behaviors that ruin thousands of lives every day. The quest for completely understanding addiction is an ongoing process, but scientists and the medical community have already gained a great deal of knowledge and as a result, recovery programs have become more successful in helping addicts achieve lasting recovery due to the innovative treatment methods being utilized today.
Understanding addiction is difficult for many because they believe addicts simply lack willpower, have low self-image, or are not well educated. When faced with a list of statistics about drug-related crime, death, and financial ruin, it shouldn’t be difficult for these skeptics to realize the fact that such a large number of people could not all have deliberately chosen to become hopeless addicts. For instance, some shocking statistics compiled by DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network) reveal that out of over 2.1 million drug-related ER visits in the US1:
- Over 21% involved illicit use of pharmaceuticals
- Over 22% were a result of illicit drugs
- Over 14% involved alcohol alone or in combination with other drugs
- Visits to the ER for illicit use of pharmaceuticals increased by 98.2% in a five year span
- ER visits for adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals increased by 82% in a five year span
- Addictive substances cause over 100,000 deaths every year
Considering that there are a large number of addicts who are not included in the above statistics, it is obvious that our nation is facing a serious epidemic. The best option for these individuals is professional rehabilitation programs that are experienced and equipped to address the various challenges that occur during detox and recovery in order to return these individuals to society as productive citizens once again.
Is Addiction Really A Disease?
In order to delve further into understanding addiction and why it has been classified as a disease, it is important to keep in mind the definition of disease:
Clearly, addiction fits the criteria for being classified as a disease. To further understand addiction, we should also determine why some people get this affliction while others don’t. Studies and brain imaging results show that in addicted individuals there are changes in areas of the brain that control decision-making, judgment, learning, memory, and behavior. These changes alter the way the brain functions and this contributes to the compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
Understanding Addiction When It Stops Being Fun
Many factors contribute to the person’s initial decision to try addictive substances. In the beginning, the individual believes the drug will make them feel better and that they can control their drug use. As their use of the drug continues, these pleasurable feelings become less fun and the person finds that they now need more of the drug simply to feel normal.
There is no single factor that indicates whether a person will become an addict, but there are some common elements involved in almost every addiction such as:
- Biology or Genes – genetics, gender, mental disorders
- Environment – dysfunctional family life, parents who are addicts, peer pressure
- The Drug – method of ingestion, effects of the chemicals, early use, availability of the drug
- Psychological Issues – depression, poor self-image, suicidal thoughts, risk taking behavior
- Physical Health – chronic pain or disease, poor nutrition, sleeplessness, fatigue2
No one intends to become an addict, even if they are aware of the addictive qualities of the substance of choice, they mistakenly believe they can retain control and avoid the dangers. Eventually, they find that when trying to abstain from the drug, the withdrawal symptoms are too uncomfortable, and will once again seek out the drug simply to avoid those symptoms. At this point, the drug is no longer fun. It has become a necessity, and the only way out of the mess is to enter a professional treatment facility.
How Does Treatment Work?
Many hours of research and studies have been devoted to understanding an addiction, and they show that addiction is a complex physiological and psychological affliction. In order for treatment to work, all aspects of the addiction must be targeted simultaneously with results-oriented program options before the individual can enjoy successful recovery. Some of the program options available for achieving this goal include:
- Proper nutrition
- Vitamin therapy
- Exercise routines
- Massage therapy or other relaxation techniques
- Behavior modification sessions
- Group and individual counseling
- Role playing sessions for active involvement
- Aftercare programs for continued guidance and support
At the end of their treatment program, a client has gained a new set of skills, ethics, and morals to guide them through the difficult transition of becoming a drug-free, contributing member of society.
For more information on understanding addiction or to learn more about treatment options, please contact us today.