Understanding addiction

Most people equate addiction with people who use drugs or alcohol. Addiction covers a multitude of compulsive behaviors such as gambling, shopping, or even social media. What is common to both the substances and behaviors is the compulsion and inability to stop despite negative consequences. Whatever you’re struggling to recover from, compassionate care and understanding can help you overcome your addiction and put you on the path to lifelong recovery.

Who is Affected by Addiction?

Approximately 23 million Americans live with an alcohol or drug addiction. Only 10% seek treatment, leaving roughly 20 million people in the country suffering from substance use disorders on their own — and that isn’t even counting those suffering from other types of addiction. People with substance use disorders come from all ages and backgrounds; the environment is not always a predictor of a substance use disorder or other compulsive behavior. So, you can see you are not alone. Fortunately, unlike many people globally, you have access to excellent recovery programs, like those provided at Dignity Healing.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is a disease. It is a chronic, relapsing condition wherein an individual compulsively uses drugs, regardless of the consequences. Addiction changes the brain at a functional level in the areas that regulate self-control, stress, and rewards. Like other diseases, addiction is life-threatening when left untreated.

Causes of Addiction

Some substances lead to addiction more quickly than others due to how they interact with your brain. Some people are more susceptible to addiction than others due to hereditary and environmental causes or underlying conditions.

Factors that impact addiction include:

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  • Mental illness such as anxiety and depression
  • Inability to connect with others
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Lack of coping skills for stress
  • Unstable home life
  • Drug abuse or mental illness of parents
  • Friends who use drugs

Genetics of Addiction

Genetics plays an important factor in addiction. If either of your parents had an alcohol or drug abuse disorder, you are eight times as likely to develop one. In fact, genetics may account for 50% of the probability of developing a substance use disorder.

This knowledge is a double-edged sword. It is not an excuse to give up. Instead, the truth can be empowering while you seek drug and alcohol treatment to overcome the hurdles leading to a successful recovery.

Signs of Addiction

Over time, your brain and body build up a tolerance to a substance, requiring you to take more to get the same effect leading to a dangerous pattern of overuse and abuse. For example, if you continue using prescription drugs long after the health problem ends, you could be addicted to it. Similarly, taking more of a prescription drug than needed is a sign of a substance use disorder.

Other signs of addiction include:

  • You feel shaky, nauseous, or depressed when the drug wears off
  • You may run a fever or have seizures.
  • You can’t stop using the drug even if it impacts your relationships and responsibilities
  • You spend an unusual amount of time thinking about drinking or using the substance
  • You can’t control the amount you use after giving yourself limits
  • You drive while drinking or using drugs
  • You steal money to pay for drugs
  • You may lose weight or have bloodshot eyes, or your appearance may drastically change

Am I an Addict or Alcoholic?

If you identify with more than one of the signs above, you may have a substance use disorder. Using more than the prescribed amount of medication or using drugs without a prescription indicates that you may have a problem.

The American Dietary Guidelines indicate that one standard drink daily for women or two standard drinks daily for men indicates moderate drinking levels. If you exceed that amount, it may be time to speak to a professional to help diagnose whether you have alcohol use disorder.

One standard drink is defined as:

  • 5-ounce wine at 12% alcohol content
  • 8-ounce malt liquor at 7% alcohol content
  • 12-ounce beer at 5% alcohol content
  • 5 ounces or a shot of whiskey, gin, vodka, or rum

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

If you have a longstanding dependence on alcohol, you may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to chronic. These include:

  • Irritability, mood swings, and anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nightmares or insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Shakes or tremors, including delirium tremens
  • Alcoholic seizures

Regardless of whether you drink or use drugs, quitting suddenly after long-term use carries severe mental and physical repercussions. That is why it is essential to seek help immediately when you decide to confront addiction head-on. At Dignity Healing, our staff includes medical professionals, trained therapists, and caring staff members to see you through detox and help you prepare for life in recovery.

Do you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse? Talk to our experienced addiction professionals by calling: (844) 978-1524