Addiction is a term that is often heard, but rarely understood. During a time when drug use and addiction rates are rising in many parts of the world, it is important for everyone to have a basic understanding of addiction – what causes it and where to look for help if needed. Read on for a crash course in Understanding Addiction and learn how to recognize addiction and what to do if it knocks on your door.
ADDICTION IS A DISEASE
The first step towards understanding addiction is knowing that addiction is a disease. Because the word addiction is often used incorrectly, many people believe that addiction is just something that can be turned on and off with enough willpower. Research has proven, however, that addiction is, in fact, a disease – recognised by both medical and psychological professionals. This dual recognition itself is a testimony to the severity of the disease and its control over both physical and mental capacities.
For some, there is a stigma around the word disease and people may deny addictions because they don’t want to be identified as having a disease. There are also benefits however to the recognition of addiction as a disease including insurance coverage of treatment. Addiction treatment is also possible, so a diagnosis of addiction is in no way terminal, and in fact, it might be the first step towards recovery
WHAT CAUSES ADDICTION?
Now that we know that addiction is a disease, the natural follow-up question is what causes this disease to occur? Why do some people develop addictions and others don’t?
Due to increases in substance abuse and addiction across the globe, there has been a lot of speculation over the past few years about what causes addiction. While new research is constantly emerging, it can largely be concluded that some causes or factors that increase the potential for addiction are: genetics, including family history; living environment and other socioeconomic factors; and pre-existing mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
No addiction gene has been identified (although the search is still on) but it is almost certain that genetics plays some role in addiction. From a statistical approach, gender alone is a factor in addiction. Men are more likely to use drugs, while women are more likely to give into temptations or relapse. Both sexes are just as likely to become addicted, however.
Coinciding with genetics is family history, home environment, and the situation in which we are raised. These factors work together to provide us with a specific personal mindset relating to addiction. If we grow up in a home where drug abuse is common and drugs are accessible, we are more likely to develop drug addictions later in life. Growing up in unstable or challenging circumstances also means that we are more likely to develop a mental illness like anxiety or depression, also increasing our likelihood of developing addictions.
BRAIN AND BODY CONNECTION
As mentioned earlier, addiction is a powerful disease that disables people’s physical, mental, and emotional capacities. This study released by the National Institute of Health shows that critical brain structures and behaviours are disrupted by long-term drug and alcohol abuse. The disruption of these areas of the brain and chemical processes leads directly to a loss of control, compulsivity, defiant behaviour, and negative emotional states that supports addiction.
So how do drugs change our brains and lead to addiction? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter – or chemical messenger – that signals to the brain that what you are doing is good and should be repeated. Drugs cause dopamine to be unnaturally released. When a person takes drugs, the brain will be overwhelmed by spikes in dopamine and eventually start producing less and less of it on its own. This is the onset of physical dependency, which is equivalent to addiction.
Withdrawal is another bodily effect of drug use that may cause a person to get and remain hooked on a substance. Withdrawal is a name for the physical and emotional issues one experiences when they are dependent on a substance and then suddenly stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms and severity depends on the types of substances the person is addicted to, duration of use, average dosage, and health conditions. For anyone who has been through withdrawal, they could tell you how frightening and impossible seeming coming off drugs is, but is a necessary first step in addiction recovery.
IS ADDICTION CURABLE?
Addiction is a chronic, progressive and primary disease. If you ride the cycle of addiction to the end, it can have serious or even deadly effects. The good news is, however, that if you receive proper treatment and support and are able to break the cycle, recovery from addiction is possible, and thousands of people in recovery can testify to it.
Numerous addiction recovery approaches are implemented internationally, but the most effective approaches should be holistic in nature. This holistic approach is captured in The Dawn’s Twin Pillar model which provides dual focus on rehabilitation and wellness. The highly trained counsellors cater programmes to meet the individual needs of clients to ensure safe and effective recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction. To complement state of the art clinical treatment, The Dawn offers alternative therapies like mindfulness meditation, spa and massage therapy, yoga, art therapy, and individually catered menus to augment treatment.
CONTACT THE DAWN REHAB IN THAILAND
If you are seeking addiction treatment for drug, alcohol, or behavioural addiction, contact The Dawn today or call +66 63 048 4877 now to discuss your treatment options at no additional cost.