What is Addiction
Many of us have asked ourselves, at one point in time or another, the ever-so popular question, what is addiction?” Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of the brain, and one where relapsing is common. Addiction involves compulsive drug-seeking and using behavior that disregards the negative consequences of the use.
While drug and alcohol addiction are the most common examples used to describe addiction, people can become addicted to any manner of things, including food, sex, or even particular activities. Over time, addiction creates changes in the brain that lead to stronger cravings and more desperate behaviors, with addicts doing just about anything in order to support their addiction.
Costing about $700 billion annually, addiction in America is a widespread, ongoing struggle that extends to people of all backgrounds, occupations, and communities –many involving the use of legal and illegal substances. More than 22,000 Americans die annually from prescription drug abuse, and drug overdoses increased 118% between 2001 and 2011.
Addicts may lose their jobs, drop out of school, sever their relationships with friends and families, experience devastating emotional or physical side effects, and turn to a life of crime in order to support their addiction.
Signs and symptoms of addiction
Addiction is diagnosed if an individual demonstrates two or more of the following behaviors in relation to a drug or other substance over a year-long period:
- The individual takes the substance for longer than intended or in increasing amounts
- They want to but fail to cut down on their use of the substance
- They spend excessive time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance
- They crave or desire the substance
- They struggle to fulfil work, school, or home obligations due to the substance
- They keep using the substance even if it is affecting their relationships
- They give up or reduce their participation in hobbies or social activities
- They use the substance in dangerous situations
- They use the substance even if they know it will result in harm
- They need more of the substance to get high
- They experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the substance.
There are no safe drugs. Even medically prescribed drugs can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction if taken for too long or contrary to doctor’s orders. However, note that dependence isn’t the same thing as addiction. For example, you might experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking coffee, but it’s unlikely that you would meet the other required symptoms for drug addiction in order for your caffeine dependency to be considered an addiction.
Do I have a drug addiction?
If you’ve worked through the signs and symptoms of addiction above and you’ve met two or more of them, then you most likely have an addiction. Admitting addiction isn’t an easy thing to do, as many people associate it with a failure or with a shortcoming. This is not the case.
Many people fail to understand how someone can become addicted to a substance, but addiction isn’t associated with willpower or simple “choice”. It’s a complex disease with no simple solution, and there’s a lot more to handling addiction than simply deciding to quit – especially since addiction shapes the way the brain works.
The truth is that anyone can become addicted – no matter their background, occupation, or life circumstance. What’s more, societal norms around some types of drugs and substances makes it difficult to see that you might have an addiction.
For example, frequent and heavy binge-drinking is often associated with alcoholism, but regularly drinking high-quality wine at home is less likely to be seen this way – even though it is a manifestation of the same behavior in a more socially acceptable form. This is why it’s essential to be honest with yourself about your behavior around certain substances, and to immediately seek help if you believe that you may have a problem.
Addiction is a chronic illness, and addressing it early before it becomes an entrenched part of your life can help to mitigate its effects on your mind, your body, your life, and your relationships. Fortunately, addiction is treatable – and combining behavioral therapy with addiction treatment programs, as well as medication where applicable, can ensure success in combating addiction.
Types of Addictive Substances
- Crack Cocaine
- Crystal Meth
At White Sands Tampa, we offer tailored, personalized treatments for all types of substance abuse addiction – and for anyone who may find themselves struggling with addiction. Our programs are rigorous, are overseen by experts, and are effective.
We can help with treatment, management and after-care services – reducing the likelihood that you’ll find yourself relapsing into drug or substance abuse. So if you’re asking yourself “do I have a drug addiction?”, then speak to us about a possible diagnosis and how we can help.