A few years back, addiction was treated as a condition that results from the morally ill behavior of an individual. It was straight up tagged as a sign of one’s inability to control their actions and was viewed as a weakness. However, with advancements in technology and more research focused on addiction, it has become quite evident that it is a brain disease that is as dangerous as any other chronic illness out there. Addiction targets the basic structure of the brain’s chemistry and alters it to manipulate the healthy functioning of the brain.
There still exist certain misconceptions about substance abuse across the U.S. and other countries as well. People believe that addiction is a choice and that it represents a deviant behavior. This has resulted in a stigma around addiction that pushes people away from those who are suffering from this disorder. The stigma makes people distance themselves from addicts and treat them as if what happened to them is their own fault. This can discourage people with substance abuse disorder to come forward and seek help, as a result of which, they may deteriorate their health even further.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a brain disease that primarily targets the brain. Although addiction can be explained as a physical and psychological dependence of the body on a said drug, it is a complex mental condition which is much more than that. Addiction not only impacts the one who’s suffering, but also those who are close to them. This disease breaks the individual on a physical, mental, emotional, as well as social level.
However, according to the World Health Organization and American Psychiatric Association addiction can only be confirmed in an individual who possesses at least three of the following factors:
- Tolerance – using more alcohol and drugs over time.
- Control – losing control of the intake of alcohol or drugs. Drinking specifically to get drunk. Regretting the amount of alcohol or drugs you had.
- Withdrawal – experiencing emotional or physical symptoms after stopping alcohol and/or drug abuse.
- Neglected activities – prioritizing drugs and alcohol over other social, work-related, recreational, and household activities.
- Consequences – continuing the use even after suffering negative consequences like losing a job, deteriorating health, low self-esteem, or even disputes in family.
- Desire to leave – thinking to leave substance abuse but continuing to do so.
- Investing more in use – spending a considerable amount of time, energy, and finances in substance abuse despite suffering related consequences.
Suffering from any of three of the symptoms mentioned above is classified as a case of addiction.
What Causes One to Become Addicted?
Several factors determine the addiction in individuals. Since this brain disorder is both gender and age-independent, so it poses equal risks to both men and women of all age groups. However, teenagers and young adults are more likely to develop an addiction to harmful substances.
Below are the possible causes of addiction and how it stems in a person:
Having a family history of addiction increases your chances to develop a substance abuse disorder. Various studies revealed that 30 to 70 percent of an individual’s risk of developing an addiction is directly linked to their genes along with other socially impacting factors.
The most common cause of a person falling into addiction comes from their curiosity and wanting to experiment with the drug and/or alcohol. This is often the case with young adults and teenagers who are habitual to clubbing and parties where they, for the sake of trying, experiment with drugs and alcohol that further evolve to become an integral part of their routine. This is also backed by the research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Prescription drugs
Often, people who are intaking prescription drugs for some other health conditions may find the calming effects of the prescribed drugs so peaceful, that they continue using the drug. Unfortunately, prolonged use or consuming prescription drugs in high quantities can develop a dependence on the drug which levels up to become addiction disorder. This majorly results from the lack of knowledge and proper education about addiction and its harmful effects on personal health. Sometimes, people who suffer from anxiety or depression start abusing the antidepressants which further worsens their mental health.
- Peer pressure
The need to fit in, level up, and feel more matured pushes someone to engage in an let’s try once behavior which turns into a habit and transforms into an addiction. Peer pressure is often the case with teenagers and young adults, however, anyone with the pressure of being around with people who use can be encouraged to follow the suit.
The feeling of getting isolated from friends and family can make an individual more inclined towards addiction. These people use drugs and alcohol to fill the void that they are forced to live with. This is common among people who don’t prefer socializing and lack positive daily interactions. After someone has submerged deep into addiction, they can further alienate themselves more to deal with the fear of being judged.
People suffering from different health conditions may choose drugs and alcohol to ease their pain and lessen their suffering. There are certain chronic diseases and mental disorders that elevates the anxiety and makes the patient feel uneasy. To get past this feeling, patients often turn to drugs with a temporary calming effect on the body. They become so used to of these drugs, that even when the disease or mental illness is gone, their drug abuse continues.
Some people use drugs and alcohol after a tiring day at work to ease and calm their minds. For these people, substances are a way to relax and provide a sense of clarity. Though recreational use, if under control, poses no harm. But long-term use can transform into addiction disorder.
These are some reasons why people may develop addictive traits. However, knowing these reasons that cause substance abuse disorder and the risk associated with addiction is only half the battle. The moment we start educating others and ourselves about this issue and work towards eradicating the stigma around addiction is the time when the actual change will surface.
Also, if you or anyone you know is suffering from substance abuse disorder, you should seek immediate medical attention. Look for quality rehab centers if needed, or opt for the outpatient treatment facilities to help curb the addictive traits. It takes time to get past addiction, but eventually, you will.
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