Addiction: What Is It and Where Can I Find Help

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Maria Lorenz
Join me on my "I Fit and Healthy" journey! Maria is an Upstate New Yorker interested in all things healthy-living related! She started the "I Fit and Healthy" Blog to document life and her pursuit of healthy living. By day she work in digital media and advertising. By night she’s a first-rate wife and mom of two crazy little girls! She is self-proclaimed addicted to her iPhone/iPad and always on the hunt for the latest health tools and fitness gadgets.

What is addiction? Addiction is a chronic disease that includes compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It affects the brain’s reward systems, which can lead to tolerance, emotional dependence, and withdrawal symptoms when stopping the addictive substance. People addicted may not be aware of it until they experience these effects, and their life unravels around them.

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse is a pattern of harmful substance use that continues even when the user has developed problems related to their drug use. This can lead to risky behaviors and health and social problems. Substance abuse can be difficult to identify as there is no simple line between casual use or occasional partying with friends and harmful addiction, but if they continue using despite personal harm, it could show a problem.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

The signs that someone might have an issue with drugs or alcohol depend on many factors, including the type of substance they abuse and how much. The signs can also vary depending on if it is a physical or psychological addiction and their age group. Signs that someone might be an addict to drugs include irritability when not using them, finding themselves unable to stop even though they know it’s harmful, neglecting responsibilities because of use, and experiencing withdrawal when not using.

Signs of addiction can also be physical, including changes in appearance or hygiene, bloodshot eyes, needle marks on the arm from injecting drugs intravenously, sleepiness even though they have recently used stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine (meth).

Can Someone Stop Addiction on Their Own?

Addictions are chronic diseases and should be treated with professional help from addiction recovery programs. It is possible to stop using a substance on one’s own, but there are plenty of reasons this isn’t recommended. Quitting without professional help can be dangerous, as the body goes through withdrawal symptoms when it doesn’t have access to drugs or alcohol. In these cases, you should always do detoxification under medical supervision to ensure safety and decrease the risk of relapse.

Who is at Risk of Addiction?

Anyone can be at risk for addiction, even if they have never used it before in their lives. There are many factors that affect a person’s likelihood to become addicted, including genetics and mental health conditions like depression or anxiety disorders, but no one knows which people who try drugs or alcohol will become addicted.

How Can I Find Help for My Loved One? 

If someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it could be helpful to talk to them about your concerns. If they are willing, let them know that you’re there to support and help in any way possible. If they are not, don’t be pushy or judgmental. Some people might need some help to recognize the problem themselves and others will simply prefer to do it on their own terms, but either way, if you care about them, there is no harm in trying to offer support.

There are many treatment options available for addiction across all substances, including outpatient programs, inpatient programs, and individual therapy sessions. There are many types of treatment as well, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management (CM) and family rehabs that involve the whole family going through recovery together to support each other. Visit today to find a rehab center and support for you or your loved one.


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