By definition, addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, activity, or thing. Addiction in the past referred specifically to psychoactive substances which cross the blood-brain barrier, temporarily altering the chemical balance of the brain. Substances included tobacco, alcohol, and some drugs.
Now a number of health care professionals, psychologists and others argue that gambling, sex, work, internet, exercise and other activities should also be included as addictions due to the feelings these activities can lead to. Individuals may feel shame, guilt, despair, rejection, failure, hopelessness, anxiety or humiliation when they engage in these activities.
When does it become addiction?
A person becomes addicted to something when they can no longer control how they use it and become dependent on it to cope with daily life. There are some individuals who can use substances or engage in activities and not have any significant problems. Others may experience damaging psychological and/or physical effects when their habit evolves into an addiction.
For many people, they have difficulty understanding why or how someone can become addicted to drugs. Mistakenly they may think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower to stop their addiction. Addiction is an extremely complex disease and quitting an addiction will require more than good intentions or a strong will to stop. Drugs actually will change the brain in ways that make quitting extremely difficult, even for those who really want to.
What causes addiction?
There is no single factor that can be used to predict if an individual will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. A combination of factors will influence the risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater chance that taking drugs can lead to an addiction. Factors which can lead to addiction, include:
- Biology: An individual’s genes account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.
- Environment: A person’s environment will include many different influences, such as friends and family, general quality of life, and economic status. Additionally, factors such as physical and sexual abuse, peer pressure, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.
- Development: Environmental and genetic factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life which can affect addiction risk. While taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier in life that drug use begins, the more likely it is to progress to addiction. This becomes particularly problematic for teens because the parts of the brain which control judgement, decision-making, and self-control are still developing.
Can addiction be cured?
It is important to remember that addiction is a chronic disease, and as with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction isn’t necessarily a cure. Individuals recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly even throughout their entire lives. Research shows that a combination of addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the highest chances of success for most individuals.
Treatment that takes an individual approach which is tailored to the patient’s personal needs can lead to continued recovery. This individualized approach includes addressing each person’s medical, mental, co-occurring, and social problems through treatment.
At A New Start, Inc., our team of therapists focus on providing each client with an individualized approach to their addiction treatment. This includes specialized therapies, such as trauma therapy, relapse prevention, and more. Our therapists are also trained in co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis treatment which is used in treating clients who are diagnosed with both a mental health disorder and substance abuse disorder. To learn more about our IOP program for addiction treatment, please contact us today at 1.844.TALK.ANS.