The term substance abuse is used to refer to the dependence associated with drug and alcohol addiction.
The definition for addiction has two aspects, substance addiction and process addictions. Substance addictions include addictions to alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and nicotine. A process is defined as an addiction to an action such as gambling, shopping, working, sexual activities, eating, and cleaning.
Regardless of the problem there is a common factor, a dependency on the substance or process. Addiction can manifest as a physical or mental dependency.
Understanding Addiction and How to Overcome It
Addiction is an illness that results when an individual consumes a substance, such as drugs, cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine, or engages in activities, such as shopping, sex, and gambling, which can be pleasurable yet the continued use or act of which becomes uncontrollable and interferes with daily life responsibilities like relationships, work, or health. Also, the person may not be aware of his or her behavior, which is out of control and causes problems not only to himself or herself but also to others.
In 2012, the National Survey on Drug Use reported over 21 million Americans abusing alcohol or drugs. Each year, only less than 2.5 million of them receive treatment or seek treatment. Addiction is a serious condition, which requires an appropriate and timely treatment to reduce the risks of life, relationship, health, and financial problems associated with it.
What are the Health Consequences?
Individuals who suffer from addiction typically have one or more health issues, which may include cancer, stroke, cardiovascular or lung disease, and mental disorder. Research has shown that smoking causes cancer of the throat, mouth, bladder, cervix, kidney, pancreas, stomach, lungs, blood, and larynx. Additionally, some commonly abused drugs, like the inhalants, may cause damage to the nerve cells in the brain or peripheral nervous system.
How Does it Harms Other People?
Addiction not only negatively affects the addicted person; it can also cause serious health issues for other people.
Three of the most troubling and devastating effects are:
Adverse effects of drug exposure on infants and children.
A mother’s abuse of prescription drugs or heroin during pregnancy can cause NAS or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a withdrawal syndrome, on her baby. Mostly, drug-exposed children need educational support in school to help them overcome the subtle deficits in areas of development such as attention, behavior, and thinking. Also, an ongoing research has been conducted to investigate if the effects of drug exposure during pregnancy on the child’s behavior and brain extend into adolescence.
Adverse effects of secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke, also known as ETS or environmental tobacco smoke, is the major source of exposure to substances, which are known to be harmful to human health, especially to children. In 2006 the Surgeon General reported that involuntary exposure to ETS or secondhand smoke increases the person’s risks of getting lung cancer or heart disease by 25 to 30 percent even if he or she has never smoked.
Increases the spread of infectious diseases.
Injecting drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin currently accounts more than 12% of new AIDS cases. The use of injection drugs is a major factor in the increased spread of hepatitis C, a potentially fatal liver disease. All types of abused drugs can cause intoxication, which interferes with the person’s judgment, increasing the person’s likelihood of engaging in unsafe sexual behaviors. This also contributes to the increased spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Can Addiction Be Treated?
Definitely yes, addiction can be treated successfully. Numerous research studies in the science of addiction led to the development and progress of various evidence-based interventions that help individuals stop their addiction and resume productive lives. Treatments enable them to successfully manage and counteract against the addiction’s powerful and disruptive effects on their behavior and brain, regaining control over their lives.
One of the most common and effective treatments for addiction is the inpatient treatment. The program requires a person to check into the treatment facility and stay there for the entire treatment program. It may last from 28 days to 90 days, depending on the person’s specific needs and preferences. Usually, the patient will go through the detoxification process on the first step of the treatment and afterward, participates in a therapy or counseling. The detox process is monitored 24 hours to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort while removing the drugs out of the patient’s system as well effectively manage the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient addiction treatment provides numerous benefits to the patient. Its primary benefit is that the patient can focus on her or his recovery without the distractions of the daily life worries. Also, inside the treatment facility, the patient will have no access to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Hence, the chance of relapse is extremely low. Moreover, most inpatient facilities provide round-the-clock care and support, which are needed by patients who have addictions for a long period of time, who have suffered from dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and who live in unstable surroundings.
Overall, recovering from addiction is not an easy endeavor. However, with the help of inpatient treatment facilities, patients can have someone to turn to for guidance, encouragement, and a listening ear, making their battle against addiction a little less tough.
Physical and Mental Dependency
A physical dependency is an actual craving, physical need, or uncontrollable desire for a substance or action. The body chemistry of the individual has changed so that the body actually thinks it needs the substance to survive. When the body does not get the substance, it goes into a withdrawal from the substance; this can be mild or severe depending on the substance. Many drug rehab programs include a detoxification program to assist with drug withdrawal.
A mental dependency is when an individual feels that they need the substance to get through the day or a certain situation. A dependency can be physical, mental, or a combination of the two.
Addictive, personality is a term used to explain or define a person who is prone to addiction. This concept defines addiction as being an aspect of a person’s fundamental personality or character.
An addiction to an action or routine of actions such as gambling, eating, shopping, working, or sexual activities. The addiction is not to a tangible thing – but in acquiring or participating an addiction to the movement or process.
When regular, use of a drug, alcohol, or substance develops a build up within the body. The body becomes accustomed to the substance, and thus needs higher levels or doses of the substance to achieve the desired effects.
Some people seem predisposed genetically to developing an addiction. It is believed that an individual’s body chemistry is such that they are very sensitive to drugs, alcohol, and other substances, thus making them vulnerable to addiction. This is based on the fact that some addictions tend to run in families; this could be due to genetic factors, pre-exposure, or environmental factors.
Social learning is considered an important factor in addictions. Social learning can be found in the family environment, social environment, through peer pressure, and advertising or media influence.
The higher availability of drugs or alcohol – by physical resistance or low cost – increases the chances of addiction.