Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person's brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you're addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a "chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences."7 There is no simple cure for addiction; however, effective treatment can help you become and stay sober.7 You will have to manage your addiction throughout your life, the same way a diabetic has to manage their condition with ongoing efforts like a proper diet and exercise.8
Tobacco: Nicotine replacement therapies have several forms, including the patch, spray, gum, and lozenges. These products are available over the counter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two prescription medications for nicotine addiction: bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Chantix®). They work differently in the brain, but both help prevent relapse in people trying to quit. The medications are more effective when combined with behavioral treatments, such as group and individual therapy as well as telephone quitlines.
Alcohol dependency is different for different people. Although many sufferers share things in common, their relationships with alcohol might at first seem to be nothing alike. This can make it difficult for people to identify themselves as alcohol dependent, even as drinking has an increasingly more damaging effect on their relationships, health, and enjoyment of life.
This subtype represents only 9 percent of U.S. alcoholics, yet more members of this group seek treatment (almost two-thirds) than any other category. Chronic, severe alcoholics have fought a long battle with this disease, and most are now middle-aged. The majority of people in this group have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorders. Many also abuse other drugs, like cocaine or opiates.
Unfortunately, only 20% of those who abuse alcohol will ever get help. Part of the reason that many people choose not to get help may be the blurred lines between socially acceptable drinking and alcoholism. While any usage of illegal drugs is considered a problem, a certain amount of alcohol usage is considered normal and acceptable. For more information about how much alcohol is safe to consume and how to tell if you or a loved one qualify as having an alcohol use disorder, read our guide to alcohol addiction.
Alcohol is often mixed with other illegal drugs, which can have serious implications for your health. In extreme cases, mixing two chemical substances can have fatal consequences. For example, when combining alcohol with a stimulant drug such as cocaine or amphetamine, the two substances will fight against each other as one has a sedative effect while the other is a stimulant. The result is a huge amount of pressure on the brain and central nervous system.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), intervention meetings are different to more traditional alcoholism treatment programs. While this type of meeting is usually designed for a person who is on the cusp of developing an alcohol problem, they can also help motivate an alcoholic in to seeking more extensive treatment for their alcoholism. The best intervention meetings are usually those that both the alcoholic person and family can attend together. This allows the family to discuss how the individual's alcoholism has affected them as a unit. This is also a good setting for loved ones to strongly demand that the individual seek treatment, as they have the backup of professional counselors.
If you checked off four to six boxes from each list, your loved one meets the criteria for alcohol addiction. Although he or she may still appear to be functioning normally at work, school, or home, there is a strong risk that the disease will progress to more serious consequences, such as illness, legal problems, or an accident, if left untreated. If you haven’t confronted your loved about their problem, it’s time to have that talk. Meanwhile, seek advice from a substance abuse counselor or family therapist about how to get your loved one into a residential alcohol treatment facility or an intensive outpatient program.
This is an ongoing debate in the medical community, but it is generally agreed that there is no one cause for the development of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, contributing factors may include a genetic predisposition to develop addictive tendencies, an environment that is permissive of drug abuse, access to illicit substances, and certain developmental issues. The existence of a Dual Diagnosis is one of the biggest risk factors for the development of addiction. Heroin Withdrawal | First Week In