Life is difficult for everyone at times, but the life of an addict is difficult all the time. Every waking moment of an addict consists of getting high or trying to get his or her drug of choice. However, there are scientific studies that show addiction is a disease. Individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol have problems with brain function. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse: The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction (drugabuse.org), 9.3% of individuals age 12 and older needed help for an addiction problem.
How Does Addiction Feel?
According to Addictions and Recovery.org, an individual who has an addiction problem will feel pleasure from the substance that is being abused. This is because the substance will arouse the pleasure area of the individual’s brain through neurotransmitters that include GABA and dopamine.
When an individual with an addiction problem has a genetic predisposition, then the feeling will make him or her want to chase after the substance because he or she feels like the high from the substance is needed to function. Many of these individuals with a genetic predisposition are willing to suffer the negative consequences that accompany their problem.
What are the Stages of Addiction?
Addictions and Recovery reported that there are two stages of addiction:
- Functioning addict
- Non-functioning addict
A functioning addict is the primary stage of addiction. In this stage, an individual will still be able to function at his or her job and will be able to uphold relationships. The later stage of addiction is the non-functioning addict, which means an addict will not be able to perform at work. A non-functioning addict will use the substance he or she is addicted to every day and will not be able to maintain relationships with family and friends.
What is Considered an Addiction?
According to Addictions and Recovery (addictionsandrecovery.org), the medical definition of addiction must adhere to at least three of the following, which is based on criteria rom the American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization:
- Tolerance: An individual’s use of drugs or alcohol will increase over time.
- Withdraw: An individual will suffer from multiple withdraw symptoms such as irritability, shaking, emotional problems, intense sweating, and nausea.
- Little to No Control: An individual will have little to no control over the amount of drugs he or she uses, and he or she will not be able to control how often the drug is used.
- Negative Consequences: An individual will continue to use drugs although there is are negative consequences on the individual’s family, friends, health, work, or social circumstances.
- Too Much Time and Energy Spent on the Substance: An individual with an addiction problem will spend a substantial amount of time obtaining the drug, using the drug, and trying to hide the use of the drug from family and friends.
- A Wanting Desire to Stop or Reduce Drug Use: An individual will want to stop using the drug or want to cut down significantly, but he or she has no control over the substance.
There are many people who suffer from an addiction. It is important for those who want to help these individuals to remember that addiction is a serious problem, which can be characterized as a disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an addiction is a chronic disease that has a negative impact on the brain. After an individual begins taking drugs, their brain structure will become altered.
How is the Brain Influenced by Addiction?
When an individual is addicted to drugs, the chemicals in the drugs can change the communication system in the brain. The drugs can also have an impact on the manner in which nerve cells send and process information.
According to drugabuse.org, there are two ways drugs cause this disruption in the brain:
- When an individual is addicted to drugs, the “reward circuit” of the brain overstimulated.
- When a person is addicted to drugs, the drugs imitate the natural chemical messenger in the brain.
Although there are some who disagree with the theory that drug addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, there has been scientific proof that warrants this assertion.
What Can be Done to Help an Addict?
If an individual suffers from an addiction problem, then it is vital that he or she seek support and help. When individuals attempt to conquer an addiction problem on their own, they are often unsuccessful in their attempt to lead a sober life. It is important for friends and family members to provide ample support through the recovery process, which can help an addict strive to lead a life of sobriety.
Inpatient treatment programs can be beneficial to addicts wanting to kick their addiction. Inpatient programs can offer an individual with an addiction many benefits such as around the clock support and supervision, which can greatly increase an addict’s chance for long-term recovery. Furthermore, recovery.org reported many benefits from selecting an inpatient treatment:
- Inpatient recovery programs can remove distractions that make an individual want to turn to his or her substance of choice.
- An inpatient recovery program has medical staff available to help individuals suffering with an addiction.
- Patients in an inpatient program are provided with nutrition that is crucial in the recovery phase.
The most important part of recovery for an addict to admit he or she needs help to overcome his or her addiction. Although the road to recovery is difficult, the outcome is a healthy life that is free from barriers such as addiction.