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Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

Sometimes addiction is a slow process that develops over time, or it can happen quickly, depending on genetics or other factors. Because it’s a complex brain disease, it can have extremely negative consequences on the person and those involved in their life. We’ll discuss what constitutes addiction and the most effective methods of treatment.

Characteristics of Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder with key elements characterized as:
  • Compulsive drug-seeking
  • Continued use despite harmful consequences
  • Long-lasting changes in the brain
NIDA also states that addiction is both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Several behavioral alterations in people with addiction are readily observable. These behaviors are mainly centered around impaired control of the addict and include:
  • Exorbitant frequency of drug use that they can’t control
  • Continued use despite adverse effects
  • An inability to seek out treatment
  • More time using or recovering from drug effects
  • A diminishing focus on rewards connected to addiction

How Addition Begins

Most people who end up addicted to drugs don’t do so intentionally. Usually, they experiment with friends or want to know what the feeling is, or sometimes, it develops after an injury where a doctor prescribed a pain reliever. When they get this “high” or euphoric feeling, their brain can quickly adapt to the feeling and shut down the dopamine, the natural feel-good chemical. The addict has to continue taking it and at a higher dose to achieve the same feeling. The addicted person feels compelled to continue the behaviors even though they know it’s unhealthy and can’t stop on their own. It’s at this point where addiction is no longer solely a choice, and a trap has been set. Also, addiction can co-occur with mental illness, which compounds the issue.

Chronic Disease and Relapses

Addiction can become a chronic illness where relapses can occur just as with other diseases like asthma, diabetes, hypertension, or lupus and multiple sclerosis. Relapse can occur even years after sobriety, so they need to enter remission again. This, of course, doesn’t prevent relapsing yet again, if triggers aren’t addressed, or skills haven’t been taught. Without treatment, addiction can continue and progress, resulting in disability and even premature death.

Treating Addiction

Before someone goes through a treatment program for addiction, detoxing from the drug or alcohol is the first step. Then counseling in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy should follow. A therapist can customize treatment to allow for the highest chance of addiction recovery. Depending on the severity of the addiction, a doctor may recommend outpatient or inpatient rehab that includes various treatment modalities. Effective residential treatment may consist of:
  • Continued individual or group therapy
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
  • Relapse Prevention (RP)
  • Motivational Techniques
  • Social Skills Training
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy Informed Approach
  • Trauma-Informed Approach
These sessions can be combined with natural therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, and more, to reduce stress and emotional issues while in treatment and beyond.

Recover from Addiction with Ardu Recovery Center

Ardu Recovery Center can help by offering support and care 24/7, seven days a week, for loved ones struggle with addiction. Our staff is comprised of professionals who are trained in treating those with addiction. Contact us today for more information.
Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.