What is Addiction?

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Substance use disorder (SUD) is often thought of as a moral failing and a lack of willpower when that is not the case. Addiction is a chronic medical disease that can be successfully regulated with clinical treatment and recovery support. 

7 Key Facts About Addiction

  1. Factors like genetics, environment, trauma, and brain chemistry, can lead to the disease of addiction.
  2. Addiction is a family disease, and it is imperative to have the support of loved ones for sobriety.
  3. For the best chance of long-term recovery, remaining in treatment for an adequate period is critical.
  4. Substance use disorders are more likely to be successful with the help of ongoing recovery support.
  5. Even though addiction is a chronic brain disease that requires treatment, the stigma of addiction creates fear of reaching out for help, ultimately costing lives.
  6. When addiction is left untreated or inadequately treated, it can cause permanent mental and physical disabilities and premature death.
  7. When someone is ready for treatment, it is vital to take action and seek help immediately, as individuals are often uncertain about entering treatment and will change their minds.

 Addiction Characteristics
  • An inability to stop using drugs or alcohol
  • Changes in mood, appetite, and sleep
  • Continuing use despite negative consequences
  • Denial
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Feeling preoccupied with the substance or behavior
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
 
 What are the Four Cs of Addiction?

The Four C’s of Addiction is a helpful tool in distinguishing between addiction as a mental health disorder demanding treatment and other types of addictive behaviors.

  • Have compulsive drug-seeking behavior:

    This can include obsession with how you will obtain more of the drug, even if you already have some. This behavior often overpowers any and every other desire or need, including important tasks such as work, school, or physical health.

  • Have drug cravings:

    This goes beyond “wanting” the drug. A craving of this magnitude overpowers everything else in the mind, making the individual act or behave out of the ordinary to satisfy the craving.

  • Continue using drugs despite the negative consequences:

    With drug use, negative consequences such as negative health side effects, loss of a job, and poor performance at school, financial problems, or strained relationships are common. If an individual continues to use a drug despite any or all of the above happening, this is a sign of addiction.

  • Have lost control of their drug use and, as a result, are unable to cut back or stop using them:

    Realizing they are mentally and/or physically incapable of controlling the use of the drug often leads to giving up entirely. This is when an individual may begin to not try to cut back or stop using, giving in to their addiction entirely.

Warning Signs of an Addiction

There are several warning signs that indicate you or someone you care about could be suffering from a substance use disorder, including:

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in productivity, attitude, and focus
  • Increase in missing events and/or late arrivals
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance
  • Unusual odors on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
  • Lack of interest in broken relationships and the consequences of using drugs and/or alcohol

Common Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms 

Addiction withdrawal symptoms occur when someone suddenly stops or reduces chronic use of drugs or alcohol. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the substance type and the length of misuse.

Methamphetamine: Depression, anxiety, and excessive fatigue.

Cocaine: Depression, fatigue, appetite increase, slowed thinking or movement, or feelings of restlessness.

Heroin: Restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, or hot and cold flashes with goosebumps.

Amphetamines: Depression, tiredness, sleep problems.

Alcohol: People experiencing alcohol withdrawal often describe the experience as similar to having a bad flu, including body aches, headaches, nausea, trouble sleeping, sweating, and even hallucinations. 

Opioids: Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and feel like a very bad flu. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, hot and cold flushes, perspiration, muscle cramps, watery discharge from the eyes and nose, and diarrhea. 

Three Medications That Treat Opioid Addiction

Known as medication-assisted treatment or MAT, these opioid medications are an effective way to help achieve sobriety and maintain recovery.

  1. Naltrexone One medication used for opioid-dependent patients is naltrexone. This blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, making opioids ineffective. If a patient relapses on an opioid drug, no effect is felt.
  2. Methadone When dosed correctly, methadone does not cause euphoria or a “high” and suppresses the urge to use other opioids. 
  3. Buprenorphine This medication goes by several brand names, including Suboxone and Zubsolv. It is a partial agonist, meaning it partially stimulates opioid receptors. 
 

Addiction Statistics 

According to the NCAS, among Americans aged 12 years and older, 31.9 million are current illegal drug users (used within the last 30 days).

11.7% of Americans 12 and older overuse illegal drugs.

53 million people, or 19.4% of people aged 12 and over, have used illegal drugs or misused prescription drugs in the last year.

2 million people, or 24.7% of those with drug disorders, have an opioid disorder (including prescription pain relievers, or “pain killers” and heroin).

Get help at Emerge Healing Center

Contact us today to discuss our treatment options and how we can best treat your individual needs on your path to recovery. Our highly-trained staff is here to answer any questions you may have and get you into the most effective program possible.

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