What Is Substance Addiction? - Rehab Guide

Addiction

Addiction
   

Addiction; what is it?

Being addicted to drugs means that not having them causes withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, and that is why it’s easier to carry on using the drug you crave, and that is why the cycle of addiction continues.

In 2018 70,000 people passed away from an overdose. Not everyone who thinks about using a specific substance initially feels that they will become addicted. This leads to tons of questions surrounding addiction for ones that seek to understand it.

What is addiction? What is an addict? What’s it like dealing with addiction? All these questions need answers, especially when you are trying to climb out of addiction or are looking to be the helping hand that addicts need to beat their addictions.

As you continue to scroll through this post, you’ll find all the information you are looking for regarding the ins and outs of substance use disorders and the meaning of addiction.

Addiction vs misuse

There are various definitions when it comes to what is addiction? In simple terms, addiction is a disorder where someone repeatedly partakes in an activity that wreaks havoc on themselves and their lives.

In this case, we are talking about substance abuse, which means addiction to drugs or alcohol. But, there are tons of other things that individuals find themselves addicted to. Someone can find addiction to gambling, gaming or shopping.

Substance abuse isn’t the only thing that you can be addicted to. This is addiction explained when someone couldn’t go a day without a specific substance, and you know that they have lost control and that substance is now in control of them and everything that they do.

Without overcomplicating things, this is how you define addiction.

What Does an Addict Look Like?

Often when people think of an addict, they imagine what they see on television. You imagine someone on the street that appears dirty shooting up in the alley by night. Or begging on the street corner to make money for their habit.

In actuality, an addict doesn’t have a specific look. An addict can be a doctor, homeless person, stay at home mother, or grandmother. There isn’t a poster child for an addict.

In most cases, if someone’s loved one suspects them of substance abuse, there are specific signs that they need to be on the lookout for when attempting to get them the help they need to fight addiction.

Why drugs are addictive

Addiction is a biopsychosocial disorder. It’s a combination of your genetics, your neurobiology and how that interacts with psychological and social factors,” said Maureen Boyle, a public health advisor and director of the science-policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Drugs have the ability to increase levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that takes messages to the brain’s reward centre, giving us a feeling of pleasure that encourages activities vital to our survival such as eating food or having sex to reproduce.

When an individual takes a drug, our reward circuit is activated. How quickly each drug can get into the brain, and how powerfully it activates neural circuits, determines how addictive it will be

Stages of Addiction

There will be instances where someone goes from using infrequently to full-blown chronic addiction in the blink of an eye. The occasion that it takes someone to go from recreational use to everyday use differs on a person to person basis.

The first stage of the addiction cycle is known as initiation. This is when someone hasn’t used it yet, but they’ve been introduced to a substance, whether it’s by way of family, friends, or things that are present in their environment.

In the case of young adults, the younger they are during the initiation phase, the more likely it is that they will live a life of addiction as they continue into their adulthood. The next phase is experimentation.

The person has been exposed to the substance enough to know that they at least want to give it a try. They may experiment with friends to see how it affects them. During the experimentation phase, most don’t realize that using one time can cause them to become addicted to a substance.

After experimentation, someone may begin to use it on a more consistent basis, but they still have some control over when and how frequently they use it. They’ve entered into addiction when their use begins to take over their lives and becomes more of a priority than it used to be.

The last stage of the cycle is physical and psychological addiction. This is when using the drug is all someone can think about, and their willingness to do whatever it takes to reach the next high. The side effects of taking drugs are usually put to the back of the mind at this stage.

This should answer the question of how does addiction work.

Types of addictions

There are three types of drug dependence that a person may succumb to when faced with substance addiction.

The first is a psychological dependence on the drug. When people use drugs, they commonly interact with the pleasure sensors found within the brain.

When they don’t have the drug in their system, they cannot reach the same level of pleasure as when they’re using it.

The next type of substance dependence is tolerance. After the first time, someone uses, each time after they will have to increase the amount they use. This is because their body has built up a tolerance to the drug, which can be dangerous.

The more someone uses and how frequently they use increases the likelihood of overdose as a side effect of their drug use.

Lastly, those that use drugs find themselves physically dependent on the substance.

It seems that without the substance, they aren’t able to think straight or function in their day to day lives. This could be because of the withdrawal symptoms that set in shortly after the last time they’ve used, and the drug has left their system.

What kind of drugs can you get addicted to:

What kinds of prescription drugs can you get addicted to:

How to Deal With Addiction?

As a loved one dealing with addiction can be both overwhelming and frustrating at the same time, but drug addiction therapy can help.

You don’t want to turn your back on someone that is struggling, but at the same time, one can recognize how detrimental keeping someone struggling with active addiction in your life can be.

If someone you know is an alcoholic or is struggling with addiction, you do what you can to get them the help they need, and if they choose not to enter into treatment, you’ve got to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself as well.

Don’t enable them or provide them with money to continue supporting their habit; all you’re doing at that point is bringing them one step closer to dying.

See our page on how to help someone with an addiction.

Mental health and addiction

When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental illness it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder.

Depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia or anxiety are all mental health problems that can be difficult to deal with, and some individuals use drugs or alcohol to cope.

Unfortunately, medication with addictive substances can have the opposite effect and worsen mental health symptoms in the long run.

Treatment for your mental health problem may include medication, individual or group counselling, self-help, lifestyle changes, and peer support.

Treatment for your substance abuse may include detoxification, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and support groups to help maintain your sobriety.

Common Substances Used

Alcohol is a contributing factor for more than 200 diseases that people find themselves plagued with worldwide. People tend to enjoy drinking because it lowers their inhibitions and makes them feel good.

For someone that is naturally shy, they might find that once they begin drinking, their ability to be the life of the party. Alcohol consumption can lead to issues with your kidneys and liver, causing issues like cirrhosis of the liver, which can be life-threatening.

Another substance that is commonly abused is prescription drugs. These types of drugs can be found in your bathroom cabinet and are easily accessible to everyone. If a doctor prescribes you a substance and you don’t take it the way it’s prescribed, that’s abuse.

Heroin is another common substance that is abused by people. People who use heroin liken the feeling to a rush of pleasure filling their bodies after ingesting the substance. Heroin is known to slow down the heart rate and the breathing of the person that has used it.

In difficult situations, this can lead to someone dying while they are high.

How Do I Know If I’m Addicted?

An indication that you’ve become addicted to a substance is if you continue to use it no matter the consequences.

Many individuals try to figure out if there is a difference between social use dependence and addiction. One clear sign that someone is taking drugs could be their lack of concern over their physical health.

A person may not care if they have abscesses in their veins or have been arrested multiple times as long as they’re able to use and achieve that rush that they want to achieve.

Read about: The signs and symptoms of addiction

If you begin lying to people about what you need money for or your drug addiction problems, you’ve become dependent. Lying and manipulating people around you is a common sign that you’ve got a problem and that the substance is now in control of your life.

If you begin to avoid situations where you know you’ll be judged for your drug abuse or where you know you won’t be able to use is a sign you’re addicted. Most addicts can’t spend time with their families without needing to use it.

This is because the calling to use is so strong that they’ve got to give in to it, or it will drive them nuts, causing mood swings and irritability.

Addiction: Fighting to Keep Them Alive

We hope that we’ve answered some of your burning questions, including what is addiction? Or how to describe addiction?

Several aspects must be considered when looking into addiction, and it’s crucial to know there isn’t one type of addict.

Living with an addict is hard, but once you’ve identified that someone in your life has succumbed to addiction, it’s time that you get the help they need.

Contact the Rehab Guide and let them help your loved one see that the path they’re on isn’t going to end well.

These experts know what it takes to help someone turn their life around and begin living life instead of merely existing.

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