What is Addiction?

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse declares that addiction is a treatable brain disease, affecting the thoughts as well as the actions of a person. An estimated one in seven people in the United States struggle with addiction. Any individual struggling with addiction may want to get help but will continue to use even after multiple failed attempts at recovery. Addiction is a disease. It does not have any preference for gender, age, ethnicity, social status, or religion. Addiction can affect anyone, and like other diseases, willpower is not enough for a full recovery. People who experience addiction need access to effective treatment.

Addiction vs. Abuse

The difference between addiction and abuse is a blurred line. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. Abusing a substance means that an individual has very symptoms of addiction. They do not have all the signs of addiction.

Substance abuse is often a stepping stone toward addiction. It’s not as severe as full addiction.

Addiction means that an individual will not stop using their drug of choice even when faced with apparent consequences of drug use. Individual experiencing addiction will display many symptoms of addiction, not just a handful.

What is Addiction? The Science Behind an Addicted Brain

Addiction triggers a series of chemical reactions within the brain. An addictive substance will cause the brain to release natural chemical such as dopamine and lead to euphoric effects. Fundamentally an addicted brain believes that it’s receiving a reward with every drug use. Dopamine is the natural reward system which tells us we’re doing a good job when we are successful and encourages us to pursue tasks that fit into our true nature. But drug use will cause these chemicals to release without cause and confuse the body. Then the brain will only produce these chemicals with drug use making it impossible to feel that euphoric rush of a job well-done without using their drug of choice — the result in an everlasting chase.

The Consequences of Addiction

Throughout many rehabilitation programs and studies, the consequences of addiction will impact nearly all aspects of a person’s life. Addiction can affect a person’s financial stability, work, their friends, their family, the ability to have intimate relationships and their personal goals. These consequences, however, have a very different effect on each person individually.

A common myth with treatment is that a person won’t seek help until they’ve hit rock bottom. Unfortunately, for many people struggling with addiction, rock bottom is death. You don’t have to wait for death to knock on your door to be free from addiction. You can decide to get help today.

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