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What is Addiction?

Understanding Addiction

People with addiction can be described as having an “intense focus on using a certain substance(s) such as alcohol or drugs to the point that it takes over their life,” according to the American Psychiatric Association. Addiction runs through each facet of a person’s life, from their family, career, social life, and physical well-being.

A startling result from a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2017 found that more Americans died from opiate overdoses than in the whole Vietnam War. As you can see, addiction doesn’t discriminate and affects people, young and old. Unfortunately, those addicted to these substances can’t see the damage caused by addiction to alcohol and drugs enough to compel them to stop. Sadly, addiction runs in families; therefore, someone may have a predisposition and not even know it. Once someone becomes addicted, it’s nearly impossible for addicts to change their behavior without the help of trained and experienced professionals.

Addiction Signs and Symptoms

To help someone identify whether they or their loved one has been abusing substances, review these 12 signs and symptoms.
  1. Mood changes that include experiencing sudden and more frequent outbursts of anger, and feelings of depression and anxiety.
  2. Risk-taking, such as doing risky things to obtain the desired substance, often while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  3. Sacrificing family and other relationships, along with neglecting financial, job, and family obligations – the substance replaces those relationships, becoming the most important.
  4. Uncontrollable behavior that amounts to using substances more often and for more extended periods than desired.
  5. Secrecy, where they make an effort in keeping behaviors and substance abuse under wraps from friends and family.
  6. Changing social circles, such as with friends and other acquaintances that would object to obsessively taking drugs or alcohol.
  7. Withdrawal when the substance is stopped for a time, which includes irritability, nausea, sweating, and tremors
  8. Family History plays a role in whether someone may become addicted to a substance.
  9. Their appearance changes and they start looking disheveled and not caring about their hygiene, or they experience severe weight changes.
  10. Tolerance increases to where they need more of the drug to continue feeling the same desired effects.
  11. They tend to turn to substance use when coping with arguments, conflicts, or stressful situations.
  12. Stashing or hiding alcohol or drugs in the home or workplace

Addiction Treatment

The longer an addict continues the abuse, the more it takes over their life, so getting treatment now is a must. There are many ways to help someone overcome their addiction, but they must take the first step and admit they have a problem. Once they recognize their addiction, it’s time to get professional help. Depending on what substance they are abusing and for how long, a customized approach is best for getting the help they need. Mental, emotional, medical, and behavioral health treatment, along with integrative therapy, supports the addicted individual. Furthermore, a variety of techniques can be employed for a successful outcome; these include:
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), which is an evidence-based approach that helps people with their hesitation in engaging with treatment and quitting their drug habit
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a short term evidence-based and goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment, which employs a hands-on approach to problem-solving
  • Social Skills Training (SST), a psychotherapeutic approach that works to help people improve their social skills, allowing them to live in society without the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Recovery Support – The addict is exposed to community recovery resources, such as SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, 12 Step, and athletic-based recovery programs.
  • Relapse Prevention (RP), a practice that implements a cognitive-behavioral approach to relapse that focuses on goal identifying and preventing high-risk situations and substance abuse
Utilizing these and other comprehensive techniques give the individual battling with addiction a way forward in recovering. Sometimes, this means an in-house recovery center that can best attend to their needs and provide them with the support they need to heal. Treating the person holistically enables them to recover and change their behaviors entirely, so they have tools in coping with life, instead of turning to substances.