The Basics of Addiction

Drug addiction has a major impact on the health and well-being of millions of people every year. According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, 21.5 million Americans aged 12 and older needed treatment for a substance use disorder. Only about 2.5 million people received the treatment they needed.

Drug addiction is a serious disease. Unless the addiction is treated, the addict’s condition will only get worse with time. Drug addiction is characterized by compulsive, uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences.

Criteria for drug or alcohol dependence:

  • Preoccupation with the next drink or drug
  • More time, effort, and money is spent seeking the substance, using it, and recovering from its effects
  • Lack of interest in other activities once enjoyed
  • Craving: intense desire for a substance
  • Tolerance: needing more and more of a substance to achieve the same desired effect
  • Withdrawal: physical and psychological discomfort and illness when the drug is removed from the body.
  • Using a higher dose of a drink or drug than intended
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Loss of willpower to stop using

The act of using drugs and alcohol begins as a voluntary act, but without warning develops into pure compulsion. The addict loses his sense of “choice” while experiencing intense cravings. The dependent individual is unable to resist the recurrent and persistent thoughts about the substance. A compulsion, coupled with loss of control, drive the individual to use. This perilous cycle of obsessive and compulsive behavior endures and the addiction always grows progressively worse unless the disease is treated.

Treatment is the number one recommendation for anyone struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Treatment is followed by a transfer to a structured recovery residence to support sustained recovery.

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Are you or a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction?

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