Drug Addiction is a disease that affects millions of addicts as well as their family members, friends, loved ones and even society as a whole. This preventable disease ruins the lives of individuals, families and loved ones.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the forms of: increased health care costs, increased criminal activity and lost productivity.
Through education, support and community involvement, many cases of substance abuse and addiction can actually be prevented. Although critics argue that addiction is merely a way for an addict to scape goat out of taking responsibility for his or her actions, those who suffer from this disease couldn't disagree more. Addiction is a complex illness characterized by chronic relapse and a nagging desire to get well. Unfortunately, many people simply cannot understand what it is that makes some people become addicts while others can use drugs or alcohol recreationally without ever thinking twice about the risks associated with physical or psychological dependence.
According to NIDA, "addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences." This disease actually alters the brain in a way that results in lasting changes which make discontinuing drug or alcohol use both difficult and, in some cases, even dangerous to achieve.
Addicts often exhibit destructive behaviors which may include:
- Repeat substance use despite the problems that are caused by such use.
- Continued cravings and desire to use despite consequences that result from substance use.
- Crug-seeking behaviors which take over normal routines.
- Illicitly attempting to obtain more drugs through prostitution, criminal activity, fraud or theft.
- Using in situations that are dangerous or where such use is harmful.
- Becoming preoccupied with drug or alcohol use.
- An inability to control use or to quit without help.
- An increased tolerance toward a substance which requires stronger or more frequent dosing.
Studies have found that there are several risk factors that may influence addiction. Some people are generally predisposed to addiction more so than others, but this doesn't guarantee that they will become addicts nor does it guarantee that they will require treatment. The following factors may influence, but not control, whether an individual becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol:
- Genetic factors including a family history of drug or alcohol use.
- Biological factors including gender, psychological health and ethnicity.
- Environmental factors including quality of life, peer pressure, history of sexual abuse or quality of parenting.
- Developmental factors including taking drugs at an early age.
Unfortunately, there is no single method of prevention or treatment that has been found to effectively control addiction for everyone. For adolescents, prevention is generally the ideal method of controlling addiction but, no single prevention method has been proven effective for every child or teen. Likewise, prevention methods can be used to help reduce the likelihood of an adult abusing drugs or alcohol but such programs must be tailored to the unique interested of the at risk individual. While prevention is the key to stopping drug addiction in its tracks, additional steps must also be taken to help those who have already fallen into the perils of addiction.
Treatment methods are available to help addicts find the right path to recovery.
The most common methods of treatment include:
- Behavioral Therapies
- Support Groups
- Residential Care
- Outpatient Care
- Sober Living
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are steps that you can take to get help. Begin by calling our helpline at 1-800-654-0987 to talk with a specialist.
You can also:
- Talk with your loved one about the situation and offer help.
- Be supportive of decisions to cut back or quit using drugs.
- Seek support through NA, AA, or other anonymous groups.
- Ask your medical provider or a professional for guidance and help.
Addiction doesn't have to be the end of the road. There are ways to overcome addiction and to get your life back on track. A Drug Free, our goals is to help you make informed choices regarding treatment and support that is available to you. For help, or to talk with someone who can answer your questions about addiction, treatment and recovery, don't be afraid to call our helpline toll free at 1-800-654-0987. We're here for you!