We’ve compiled the latest facts, figures and information about substance abuse and recovery and put them in one spot. Our goal is to make it easy for people who are battling an addiction (and their families) to get the treatment information they need. Look below for links to our straightforward substance abuse resources.
What Is Addiction?
Many people don’t know that addiction is accepted by the medical community as a mental health problem. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is defined as “a primary, chronic disease … characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”
This means that becoming addicted and curing addiction are not just a matter of willpower and self-control. When a person is struggling with addiction, they are actually competing against strong mental signals sent straight from the brain.
How Does Addiction Effect the Brain?
Substance abuse greatly influences the parts of the brain that control pleasure, motivation and reward. The more often a person abuses drugs or alcohol, the more the brain rewires itself to focus on using substances all the time.
Eventually, the brain becomes so dependent on drugs and alcohol that it cannot function properly without them. This deep, psychological need to use eventually leads a person to the self-destructive, antisocial and even violent behaviors we normally associate with drug addiction.
Undoing the psychological and neurological damage done my drug addiction takes time as well as intensive, medically based treatment.
Can a person be addicted to more than one substance or behavior at a time?
Yes. This phenomenon of co-occurring disorders is known as a “dual diagnosis.” Dual diagnosis may refer to a person being addicted to multiple substances at once. The term may also refer to individuals who suffer from substance abuse disorder and another mental illness, such as bipolar disorder.
Treating one of these problems by itself isn’t enough. That’s because the symptoms of one illness make it nearly impossible to treat the other by itself. People struggling with multiple disorders should look for specialized care that treats the entire problem at once.
It is true that you are much more likely to be prone to addictive behavior if other members of your family show similar tendencies. However, this alone does not account for why some people who abuse drugs and alcohol become addicted while others do not. The reality is that a mix of risk factors influence a person’s chances of developing an addiction.
These risk factors include:
Early exposure to substance use
Traumatic or high-anxiety childhood
Presence of another mental health problem
What are the health consequences of addiction?
The health consequences of addiction are wide ranging and severe. Substance abuse greatly increases a person’s chances of developing a separate mental health disorder. That’s because changes to the brain make the addict chemically dependent on their substance of choice, creating a high risk for new mental health problems.
Substance abuse also has drastic and negative impacts on the body. Critical organs like the liver, heart, lungs and kidneys can be severely damaged by drug abuse. Addiction also makes a person less likely to take care of themselves, further increasing their risk for injury or disease.
How does a person stop their cravings?
The best way to stop addiction cravings is to stop using completely, avoid all triggers of past drug use and practice relapse prevention strategies daily.
Learning and using this set of skills while getting off of drugs is extremely difficult without help. That’s why it’s so important for those struggling with addiction to enter professional rehabilitation. There, they can get support from medical experts while recovering in a drug-free environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t See What You Are Looking For?
We here at Fight Addiction Now are all about supporting people to help them overcome their addictions.
Because your doctor prescribed it to you, it must be safe, right? Unfortunately, drugs that are legally prescribed by a medical professional can sometimes lead to addiction. This implicates medications such as opioid pain relievers, benzodiapines (anti-anxiety meds), amphetamines, SSRI antidepressants and many more.
From heroin to cocaine to meth, illegal drugs are still a big business in the United States, and they’re still responsible for thousands of deaths each year. If you’re not quite sure of all of the dangers of these substances and how they can lead to addiction, then we highly recommend checking out our street drug resources.
While alcoholism is one of the most widespread types of addictions in the country, few know all the facts. Escaping the grip of the bottle is much easier when you understand how alcohol affects the body. This resource also explains why detoxification is so important for those trying to beat alcohol addiction.
There are certain types of addiction that don’t involve any type of substance at all (although they can co-occur with substance abuse). These are known as process addictions, and they can severely hamper one’s quality of life. Examples include gambling addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction and eating disorders.
It is very common for addictions to occur at the same time as other mental health issues like depression.
Treating an addict’s substance abuse problem without treating their other mental health issues is rarely effective. This resource goes into the important link between substance abuse and mental health disorders.
Keeping up with all the new information coming out about addiction, drug use, health care and treatment can be a challenge. We’ve made things easy by doing all the research for you, and posting the results on our informative blog.