The way we perceive addiction is shaped by two things: sociocultural dogmas and science. For decades, society has been locked in a loop where addicts are people of loose morals.
We have been made to believe that addiction is a result of lack of self-control and weak. This hindered the research and development of addiction treatments until the 21st century when scientists began treating addiction as any other chronic disease.
Look at it this way; who wakes up in the morning and plans on how to become an addict? Who adds addiction to his or her new year bucket list? Who sets goals to use a particular drug? People use drugs for recreation to avoid stress or to suppress trauma, PTSD, and depression. Eventually, they become dependent and addicted.
Most addicts begin using drugs because of their environment and genetic predispositions. The environment can be work, school, family, or community. If you’re living in a family where most people are alcoholics, you will likely fall to alcohol addiction too.
If Meth, Marijuana or Heroin users form your clique, you are likely to ‘test drive’ these drugs and eventually become dependent on them.
Thanks to the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, we now know the linkage between genetics and addiction. Some genetic factors predispose individuals to drug dependency than others.
An interplay of genetic and environmental factors causes addiction. Also, the age of first use determines your likelihood of falling into addiction. The earlier you start using drugs or engaging in behaviors like gambling, the higher the probability of getting addicted.
There is no doubt that you are responsible for deciding to first use an illegal drug, alcohol or prescription drugs.
If you are in high school or college, the euphoria, the desire to feel ‘high,’ and the influence of friends can be overwhelming. You’ll be like, let me try out just for today – it’s not a big deal as I will do it once.
It continues like that until you begin noticing that you are developing a dependency on a particular substance. It becomes apparent and clear that you cannot quit easily as you thought. That is how addiction begins. The first use is a choice, but recurrent and compulsive use is an addiction.
So, for most of us who believe addiction is a choice, it’s time we change how we perceive this problem. Yes, the first decision we make is a choice, but compulsive substance use is a disease.
According to the American Association of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is a chronic disease that involves changes in brain reward and motivation centers. During the process of addiction, your brain circuitry changes and that explains why addicts experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using an addicting substance.
ASAM notes that addiction is treatable through a combination of various treatments including:
See more about addiction treatments and therapies here.
Addiction therapies include:
The first step in treating addiction is acknowledging you have a problem that requires medical intervention. Talk to friends and family members. Let them recommend reputable centers where you can begin your recovery journey.
If you want to find a rehab near you for yourself or your loved one, we help you in the process for free. Contact our helpline by phone or browse our rehab directory for a list of rehabs in your state.
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