Many words surrounding “addiction” are thrown around loosely every day. If you spend any time on social media, you’ll see posts from tired adults claiming they’re addicted to coffee or caffeine. And if you scroll a bit more, you’ll find the words shopaholic, workaholic or even chocoholic, describing someone’s fondness for certain activities or foods.
However, addiction shouldn’t be mocked or taken so lightly. The fact is, addiction is a severe medical condition, also referred to as a substance use disorder (SUD). It is commonly associated with individuals who struggle with an uncontrollable use of drugs, alcohol or even gambling, regardless of the negative impacts those vices have on their lives.
Defining addiction is no easy task. It can be unique to each person it affects. But in short, addiction is a chronic brain disorder that changes the reward, motivation, and memory systems of the brain.
In other words, an addict’s brain is wired to focus intently on obtaining their drug or craving of choice because that will lead to a feel-good, euphoric state for them. Since an addict’s brain chemistry is wired differently than a non-addict’s, a person with an addiction disorder will go to great lengths to find ways of continuously fueling their addiction.
This leads to persistent drug or alcoholic-seeking behavior, even in the face of negative consequences such as health problems, financial difficulties, and relationship issues. The more a person drinks or uses drugs, the higher their tolerance becomes, and the greater the amount is needed to help them achieve a high moving forward. It is a vicious cycle that can spiral out of control quickly.
Most people associate addiction with substance use disorders, which include the use of drugs, Opioids, alcohol, and tobacco. However, addiction can also involve other types of behaviors, such as uncontrollable gambling, shopping, sexual activity, and Internet use.
These non-substance-related addictions are often referred to as behavioral addictions. Unfortunately, once the brain has been changed by any type of addiction, a person is no longer in control of their actions; they are now dependent on the continued use of those substances or behaviors, even when they don’t want to be and attempt to stop.
The development of addiction is complex. It is typically caused by a combination of behavioral, psychological, environmental, and biological factors.
Unfortunately, genetic risk factors play a key role in addiction. A person’s genes are responsible for about 50 percent of their risk of developing a substance use disorder. This means having a close relative with an addiction can put a child at a much greater risk of developing an addiction in the future.
Additionally, some people are more prone to addiction than others, and many factors such as early exposure to drugs, childhood trauma, and mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, can increase a person’s risk of addiction.
If you or a loved one are dealing with an addiction, you are not alone.
Studies show that 21 million Americans are currently struggling with some form of addiction, yet only 10 percent of those individuals will seek help. However, there are numerous treatment options that are proven to work effectively and can change an addict’s life for the better.
Treatment for addiction often involves a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Medications can be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy can help address underlying psychological factors that contribute to addiction, or simply get to the root of the problem.
Overall, addiction is a serious medical condition that requires thorough treatment and ongoing support. It is important for individuals with addiction to seek help as early as possible to minimize the negative consequences on their lives and to improve their chances of addiction recovery.
Adelante Healthcare provides a supportive environment for people to obtain addiction treatment while receiving encouragement and expert guidance along the way to a healthier new path.