What is Addiction?

An addiction is a disorder characterized by the compulsive use of a rewarding substance or activity despite experiencing adverse consequences. It is a complex condition with biological, psychological, and social components which is considered a disease of the brain. Its development in an individual is believed to be influenced by both genetics and environment (nature and nurture).

In  the past, addiction was considered to primarily encompass substance abuse, but over the years the definition has been expanded to include activities like gambling, internet use, gaming, shopping, and other non-substance related behaviors. With effective treatment like that offered at Virtue Recovery Center, people with addictions can go on to live happy, healthy, and productive lives free from the negative consequences of addiction.

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Substance Use and Abuse

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, often called the DSM-V or DSM 5, is the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association’s “gold-standard” text on the names, symptoms, and diagnostic features of every recognized mental disorder, including addictions. It is the manual upon which health insurance companies in the United States base their accepted diagnoses of psychological conditions including substance use disorder, and their guidelines to pay for treatment thereof.

The DSM 5 criteria for substance use disorders are based on decades of research and clinical knowledge. In a nutshell, the DSM-5 defines addiction as “continuing to do the same behavior even though negative consequences result.” For example, when non-addicts first experience a problem because of their drug or alcohol use, they immediately change their behavior so as not to drink or use again in a manner such that they experience negative consequences. Conversely, when addicts have problems because of their drug or alcohol use, they consider it a fluke and don’t believe it will happen again (denial). So the addict keeps doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Albert Einstein called this “the definition of insanity.”

Addiction is a disease. It produces physical changes in the alcoholic or addict’s brain. And like any other disease, addiction must be treated to achieve recovery. An addict can’t just “will” his or her addiction to go away any more than someone suffering from cancer or diabetes can “will” their disease to go away. If a person has cancer or diabetes, that individual goes to a doctor or hospital to receive treatment. Similarly, when a person suffers from an addiction, he or she also needs to seek professional help to recover. That is where Virtue Recovery Center comes in – we are professionals in addiction recovery.

What Are Substance Use Disorders

The DSM 5 recognizes substance-related disorders resulting from the use of 10 separate classes of drugs: alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens (phencyclidine or similarly acting arylcyclohexylamines, and other hallucinogens, such as LSD); inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics; stimulants (including amphetamine-type substances, cocaine, and other stimulants); tobacco; and other or unknown substances.

Therefore, while some major groupings of psychoactive substances are specifically identified, the use of other or unknown substances can also form the basis of a substance-related or addictive disorder.

The activation of the brain’s reward system is central to problems arising from drug use. The rewarding feeling that people experience as a result of taking drugs may be so profound that they neglect other normal activities in favor of taking the drug.

The pharmacological mechanisms for each class of drug are different. But the activation of the reward system is similar across substances in producing feelings of pleasure or euphoria, which is commonly referred to as the “high” produced by substance use/abuse.

The DSM 5 recognizes that people are not all automatically or equally vulnerable to developing substance-related disorders. It is believed that some people have lower levels of self-control than others which may predispose them to develop problems if they’re exposed to drugs. Similarly, research is being done into potential genetic predisposition to addiction and addictive behaviors.

There are two groups of substance-related disorders: substance-use disorders and substance-induced disorders:

Substance-use disorders are patterns of symptoms resulting from the use of a substance that you continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result.

Substance-induced disorders, including intoxication, withdrawal, and other substance/medication-induced mental disorders, are detailed alongside substance use disorder

Criteria For Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders span a wide variety of problems arising from substance use, and cover 11 different criteria:1

  1. Taking the substance in larger amounts or for longer than you’re meant to.
  2. Wanting to cut down or stop using the substance but not managing to.
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance.
  4. Cravings and urges to use the substance.
  5. Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of substance use.
  6. Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.
  7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  8. Using substances again and again, even when it puts you in danger.
  9. Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the substance.
  10. Needing more of the substance to get the effect you want (tolerance).
  11. Development of withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the substance.

Severity of Substance Use Disorders

The DSM 5 allows clinicians to specify how severe or how much of a problem the substance use disorder is, depending on how many symptoms are identified. Two or three symptoms indicate a mild substance use disorder;1 four or five symptoms indicate a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms indicate a severe substance use disorder.

Clinicians can also add “in early remission,” “in sustained remission,” “on maintenance therapy” for certain substances, and “in a controlled environment.” These further describe the current state of the substance use disorder.

Substance/Medication-Induced Mental Disorders

Substance/medication-induced mental disorders are mental problems that develop in people who did not have mental health problems before using substances. They include:

  • Substance-induced psychotic disorder
  • Substance-induced bipolar and related disorders
  • Substance-induced depressive disorders
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorders
  • Substance-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorders
  • Substance-induced sleep disorders
  • Substance-induced sexual dysfunctions
  • Substance-induced delirium
  • Substance-induced neurocognitive disorders

Intoxication

Substance intoxication, a group of substance-induced disorders, details the symptoms that people experience when they are “high” from drugs. Disorders of substance intoxication include:

  • Marijuana intoxication
  • Cocaine intoxication
  • Methamphetamine intoxication (stimulants)
  • Heroin intoxication (opioids)
  • Acid intoxication (other hallucinogen intoxication or “acid trip”)
  • Substance intoxication delirium

Is There a Cure for Addiction?

Can an addict learn to control their addictive behavior with the right addiction information? What are the causes of addiction, and can it be prevented? This is a complicated disease of the brain. So, the answer to these and other common questions is yes, no, and it depends. An addict suffers from the compulsive need for a habit-forming substance or behavior.

Addiction is defined as the “persistent compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance or the practice of something that is psychologically habit-forming, a chronic disease of the brain that leads to individual biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dysfunction reflected by the pathological pursuit of the reward or relief in the form of a substance or behavior.” Because what motivates an addict is his/her drug or behavior, the only real prevention is abstinence. There exist these types to all kinds of different things. Because we don’t live in a perfect world, some are more harmful than others, but each bears its level of pursuance and degree of necessity for the addict.

The complexity of this disease and overcoming it and the devastating effects are the ultimate goals so many addicts are trying to reach. Let’s take a look at some of the different abuse levels and how they affect the addict and their loved ones’ lives. Of the most likely things to become quickly addicted to are narcotic pain relievers in the form of opioids. Among the most commonly prescribed opioids are codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Methadone (often used to treat heroin addicts), Morphine, and Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin). Doctors prescribe these medications to treat moderate to severe pain. Many people quickly become addicted to these drugs as they are often prescribed in around-the-clock dosages. This allows the body to get accustomed to the opiate very quickly. Those who are aware that they have an addictive personality should not take these medications.

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Behavioral Addiction Information

Can an addict learn to control their addictive behavior with the right addiction information? What are the causes of addiction, and can it be prevented? This is a complicated disease of the brain. So, the answer to these and other common questions is yes, no, and it depends. An addict suffers from the compulsive need for a habit-forming substance or behavior.

Addiction is defined as the “persistent compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance or the practice of something that is psychologically habit-forming, a chronic disease of the brain that leads to individual biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dysfunction reflected by the pathological pursuit of the reward or relief in the form of a substance or behavior.” Because what motivates an addict is his/her drug or behavior, the only real prevention is abstinence. There exist these types to all kinds of different things. Because we don’t live in a perfect world, some are more harmful than others, but each bears its level of pursuance and degree of necessity for the addict.

The complexity of this disease and overcoming it and the devastating effects are the ultimate goals so many addicts are trying to reach. Let’s take a look at some of the different abuse levels and how they affect the addict and their loved ones’ lives. Of the most likely things to become quickly addicted to are narcotic pain relievers in the form of opioids. Among the most commonly prescribed opioids are codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Methadone (often used to treat heroin addicts), Morphine, and Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin). Doctors prescribe these medications to treat moderate to severe pain. Many people quickly become addicted to these drugs as they are often prescribed in around-the-clock dosages. This allows the body to get accustomed to the opiate very quickly. Those who are aware that they have an addictive personality should not take these medications.

Eating Disorder Addiction Information

The effects of bulimia on the body are very harsh. It regularly transforms otherwise healthy women and girls into extremely unhealthy remnants of themselves very quickly. Body dysmorphic disorders cause women and girls to believe that they are overweight or fat when they are not in actuality. They take the extreme measures they deem necessary to lose weight an,d therefore, appear more appealing to others. The apparent result of such extreme behaviors is its effect on the body, malnutrition, which causes lower body temperature resulting in dehydration. The body will then begin suffering from a drop in blood pressure,e possibly causing hypotension, respiratory infections, blindness, organ failure, and eventually death to those who do not seek treatment. Considering how many deaths are caused by bulimia each year, young women and girls should choose to diet and lose weight.

DUAL DIAGNOSIS ADDICTION INFORMATION

A dual diagnosis is a typical result for those suffering from being addicted to alcohol and illegal street drugs. We must remember at all times that this is a nondiscriminatory disease that can affect anyone regardless of race or color. This can impact a chronic user irrespective of ethnicity or creed, whether you are a man or a woman, husband, father, mother, or wife. It doesn’t care how old you are or how educated. Addiction could care less about your sexual orientation, whether you’re straight or gay. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, famous or unknown; it is a disease that affects an individual’s mind, body, and soul.

The Drugs Of Abuse

Many addicts suffering from alcoholism also have mental illness and the compounding of other abuse drugs. In fact, so many drug addiction cases began with a person who was a victim of abuse as a child and ended up on the street as a result. Many of our homeless people turn up in shelters consumed by drug users. Drug dealers prey on these individuals’ misfortune, and they soon become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Many of these users never get help with their problems. Do you know someone who needs help before it’s too late? Highly addictive and the most commonly abused street drugs are heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. They are also easily attainable, and their easy access makes controlling them tough for law enforcement and incredibly complicated to treat once addicted. The success rate of substance abuse treatment is sad, minimal, but treatment is available if a user wants to get help. The problem is that once an addict is hooked on amphetamines, heroin, or cocaine (specifically crack cocaine), it’s harder to stop using the drug. The body has already developed the physiological need for it, and without it, an addict will show signs of withdrawal or suffer physical pain. Most addicts find it more pleasant to keep using rather than go through the effects of withdrawal, and recovery becomes further out of reach for them. Addicts who are brave enough to enter into recovery are the lucky ones. They are given a second chance at life. Once a recovering addict gets through the early stages of recovery, they will eventually begin the slow process of healing.

Recovering from a Life of Addiction

Depending on their drug of choice, many addicts not only have to recover from the initial after-effects of not using their drug of choice, but they now are experiencing a broad range of other related health problems caused by so many years of using. Many addicts contract STDs, hepatitis, or severe heart problems because of their prolonged drug use. Prolonged use of these drugs has even caused many addicts to have a heart attack or stroke, yet they continued to use it. Most don’t even realize the extent of the damage they have done to their bodies until they get clean. Addicts who used these types of abusive drugs become malnourished from not eating enough. They develop tooth decay and skin irritations due to the compulsive digging and scratching of the skin. They have done permanent damage to their bodies that have changed how they look and feel about themselves. Through recovery, this can be dealt with, and addicts can begin to feel like themselves again. Acceptance plays a big part in understanding the changes that have taken place in the body of the user. Addicts must resign themselves to the fact that they may never look the way they once did. It is challenging for addicts to come to terms with this.

Other Addiction Information Facts

Often, other roadblocks to recovery for an addict that is tough to accept are those horrible things the addict may have done. Many can’t forgive themselves once their conscience is restored through the process of addiction recovery. They feel if they can’t forgive themselves, how can anyone else possibly forgive them for their wrongdoings? These feelings of inadequacy often lead addicts to relapse; go right back to “getting high.” An addict must get educated on the proper addiction information and understand that the whole process of recovery takes time. After all, it didn’t develop overnight, and it took prolonged use of the drugs they were using to enter into the disease. Just the same, recovery doesn’t happen overnight either. Patience is necessary to recover fully.

Alcoholism is by far the most common problem in this country. It affects over 20 million people in the United States alone. Over 60% of alcoholics have a history of alcoholism in their families. Unfortunately, 90% of recorded child abuse cases are the result of alcoholism. Believe it or not, alcohol is the most challenging addiction to kick. Addiction affects the body in the most detrimental ways, and it is the only actual “drug” that, if stopped, “cold turkey,” can sometimes cause the death of an alcoholic. Unfortunately, this can happen due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms and how chemically dependent the alcoholic is on alcohol. Because often taking another drink is less painful to an alcoholic than not taking one, it is harder for an alcoholic to quit independently without assistance and support. It takes carefully monitored medical treatment in a qualified alcohol addiction treatment facility to aid the alcoholic to stop drinking successfully. Otherwise, a severe alcoholic can develop hallucinations or go into convulsions or even have a seizure. These are symptoms associated with what is called delirium tremens, or DT’s.

While an alcoholic is braving the process of quitting drinking, they must be monitored for those qualified to treat various health problems associated with alcoholism. One disease is a direct result of excessive alcohol abuse, and that is cirrhosis of the liver. To catch it in time could prove to be fruitful as the liver does have the capability to regenerate proper function; however, other significant problems can occur along with it. Alcohol abuse doesn’t just compromise the liver; it can also affect the kidneys’ operation, digestive health, cause jaundice or anemia. Diabetes can further complicate the health of an alcoholic. A recovering alcoholic is strongly advised to eat well and regularly and above all else, continue not to drink.

Are You Ready to Take the Steps Towards Recovery?

Regardless of all the health risks, an addict won’t stop using until they are willing. Often, they won’t even seek a treatment center or clinic aid unless otherwise ordered by the court. Many are habitual offenders who have exhausted every other means of trying to get clean. Whether forced to or not, an addict can’t kick the habit of drug and alcohol abuse alone. National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Hotlines and Information Centers are set up all over the country. Our helpline operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for those who need advice about the dangers of alcoholism, addiction information, substance abuse, and the adverse effects on the addict and their families. Help is out there waiting to be given to anyone wishing to stop using. There are numerous services available to those dealing with this problem in the family that is just a phone call away. It’s time for you to get help before it’s too late. We are here to offer help in your search for addiction information and offer a cure, and we will also assist in your loved ones’ intervention.