Addiction Isn’t a Choice
by Sarah from DrugRehab.com January 2017
Many people don’t understand addiction. This chronic brain disease can impact individuals from any community, race or socio-economic background. While some think those suffering from addiction chose to be in the situations they are in now, the truth is that a variety of factors influenced those decisions.
What Causes Addiction?
Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. Children born into families where one or more members have a history of addiction are at increased risk for substance use disorders later in life. Genes associated with impulsive behavior are also linked to a higher risk of drug and alcohol addiction.
In addition to genetics, environmental risk factors can also play a role. People who were raised in high-risk environments, such as living in a home where drug use was common, are more likely to develop an addiction later in life. People exposed to traumatic events are also at risk for addiction.
When Did You Start Struggling With Addiction?
Types of Addiction
Addiction can be behavioral or substance related. There are three different types of addiction.
Drugs change the brain. Stimulants that arouse the brain and nervous system, such as tobacco, cocaine and prescription amphetamines, increase alertness while depressants such as alcohol, marijuana and opioid painkillers slow activity in the brain and nervous system. Hallucinogens LSD and PCP drastically disrupt the way the brain and nervous system communicate, causing distortions in the user’s perception of reality.
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common addictions in the United States and is often referred to as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder.
Illicit Drug Addiction
Individuals trying to obtain a high, altered perception of reality or feelings of relaxation and happiness sometimes turn to illicit drugs. Illicit drugs include heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, among others.
Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drugs have soared in popularity in the past two decades and are now the third most abused substances in the world, behind alcohol and marijuana. When drugs prescribed by a health care professional are used in any way other than as prescribed, the likelihood of addiction drastically increases. Common drugs that cause prescription drug addiction include opioids, sedatives, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines.
Certain behaviors have the ability to cause brief feelings of happiness or euphoria. Continuing to seek the feelings of happiness or euphoria through these behaviors can cause a person to lose control of their actions. Behavioral addictions can include gambling, eating, shopping, sex, internet and video games. People suffering from behavioral addiction can experience symptoms similar to those of drug addiction. Behavioral addiction symptoms include cravings, tolerance, withdrawal and relapse.
Substance use disorders and mental illness go hand in hand. People with co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis, have simultaneous mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Nearly six out of 10 people suffering from a substance use disorder also suffer from a mental disorder such as ADHD, PTSD or schizophrenia. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process that requires change from the individual and support from others. This process is different for everyone and specialized treatment programs are influenced by a person’s type of addiction, the severity of their addiction and the duration of their addiction.
The level of care needed varies from person to person, and many people need a full continuum of care to heal completely.
Inpatient rehab is treatment in which someone typically spends a month or more at a substance abuse treatment facility designed to help those with addiction. This type of treatment removes the person from an environment that promotes substance abuse. Medical professionals and substance abuse and mental health counselors provide personalized treatment plans that give clients the greatest chances of successful recovery. Inpatient care often includes an intensive combination of drug detox, therapy, and medical monitoring.
Outpatient care can follow an inpatient program or work alone as a way to maintain sobriety for those already in recovery. Clients do not live at the facility and may continue to go to work and socialize with friends while receiving treatment for addiction. Those who choose this type of treatment learn how to live drug-free outside of intense supervision.
Some facilities specialize in treating certain addictions or specific clients, such as teens or those with co-occurring mental health disorders.
Many detox centers focus solely on helping clients overcome their physical dependency on drugs. Detox centers may provide inpatient or outpatient care, depending on the severity of the person’s addiction. The top substance abuse treatment centers create comprehensive discharge plans that refer clients to further treatment after detox.
Sarah is a writer and social media specialist for DrugRehab.com. She is an advocate for mental health and addiction treatment. If you would like to learn more about addiction, treatment options or want to submit a story idea, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.