Understanding the Disease of Addiction

Addiction is a Disease That Requires Treatment in Order to Overcome

Addiction is a complex and multifaceted disease that affects nearly 22 million U.S. adults and drains the healthcare system of hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Needless to say, drug and alcohol addiction is at epidemic proportions across the nation. Diagnosing the disease that is addiction can be tricky, as genetics and family history only play a small role in the deciding factor of addiction detection.

In order to understand the disease of addiction, psychological and social factors must be looked at as these influencers may drive an individual to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. Psychological illnesses and chemical imbalance in the brain can be the root cause of addiction, as mental illness is responsible for almost 50 percent of all addiction cases. Former trauma during childhood or youth has also proven to be a contributing factor to addiction. By understanding the disease of addiction in a more critical and compassionate manner, it can be better understood.

Looking at the Foundation of Addiction

There is a common misconception that those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction lack willpower and have no desire to obtain sobriety. In fact, addiction is characterized as a compulsive and repetitive action that has negative and adverse repercussions, and even though these actions cause hardship, the individual suffering cannot control it. This is an addiction.  

Those who struggle from addiction, understand the consequences of their actions but they simply cannot refrain from using drugs or alcohol because they have a disease. Think of any disease that one may suffer from, perhaps its heart disease, diabetes, lung cancer, or a respiratory infection, among others; these illnesses requires addiction treatment in order to manage. The same rule applies to the disease of addiction.

Individuals who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction must seek the help of treatment in order to successfully recover. Addiction is a disease that is manageable and treatable, although it cannot be ‘cured’. It must be continually monitored and controlled in order to prevent relapse.

Addiction Defined

Addiction is a result of various and combined elements such as environmental, behavioral, and biological factors. Addiction modifies and alters the way that the body and brain function, resulting in a mindset that cannot function ‘normally’. In fact, when the body and brain do not receive a dose of the abused substance, whether it is drugs or alcohol, withdrawal symptoms begin to set in. At this point, the individual who is struggling with addiction will begin to endure the shakes, the sweats, and even hallucinations. This is how addiction takes control; it makes you dependent on the substance in order to simply function. In order to break the cycle of addiction, the body must be weaned off of the substance in a controlled environment, typically through a medically monitored detoxification process.

How Substance Abuse Alters the Brain

Addiction substances such as prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and alcohol all release high levels of ‘feel good’ chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into the brain. These chemicals naturally occur when basic pleasurable needs are met such as eating great food or taking a drink of water when you are extremely thirsty. With the continuous use of drugs and alcohol, though, the brain builds up a tolerance to these ‘feel good’ chemicals and cannot produce enough on its own to make the individual feel any sort of pleasure. They begin to then rely on the substance in order to simply ‘feel’. This is the most dangerous aspect of addiction as this tolerance level will continue to get higher which puts the individual at high risk for overdose.

If addiction goes untreated, detrimental mental and physical side effects result. Since this unique disease is progressive, the severity of it becomes more debilitating over time. Eventually, this disease comes to a life-threatening point and if an overdose does not kill you, the lifestyle that addiction leads will. You feel as though you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction is on a destructive path, it’s time to get immediate assistance.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/addiction-health

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.