Addiction is a disease

Addiction is a disease of “more”…. Whether one is addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling or food….the main underlying problem is that there is never enough. An addict almost always seeks more of the same despite not getting the initial high of his/her addiction. Addiction takes away one’s control of self as one becomes its slave. Addiction has ill effects on almost every area of an addict’s life.  From a physical standpoint, addiction can, and often does cause serious damage to various bodily systems, most importantly the brain but also liver, circulatory and endocrine systems, lungs, and the digestive system. An addict’s behavior and mood are almost always the victims of the disease. Often there is a drastic change in an addict’s mood and behavior after the addiction takes its hold of his/her life; some of the common adverse effects here are:

  • A serious decline in one’s functioning level.
  • Ignoring important obligations and responsibilities.
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Relational problems.
  • Risk taking and at times unlawful behaviors with serious legal consequences.
  • Lack of self-esteem, depression and hopelessness.
  • Loss of control and a vicious cycle of self-destruction.

Addiction treatment is important because if untreated the addict will eventually destroy everything in his/her life. Often the first signs of addiction are giving up the activities or hobbies one used to enjoy, being secretive about one’s activities, isolating oneself socially, a decline in school or work performance, and often a loss of interest in one’s in personal grooming and hygiene. Eventually, the appearance may become disheveled, with less attention paid to having clean clothes, combing hair or brushing teeth. Women may alter their previous routines and stop using makeup or changing the way that they use their makeup. For many users, hygiene becomes problematic and body odor and general uncleanliness may become noticeable. It is not uncommon for others to think that an addict is just being lazy, not recognizing the underlying addiction which is changing the way an addict perceives him or herself. Users of injectable drugs often wear long sleeves to cover needle marks. Users of certain illicit drugs such as Methamphetamine may also develop noticeable sores around the mouth, nose and face. Individuals who snort drugs into the nose frequently experience nosebleeds.

Many of the drugs of abuse have extremely powerful pharmacological effects on the user. For instance, those who abuse stimulants including meth and cocaine can experience nervousness, excessive and purposeless energy, loss of sleep and appetite with weight loss, irritability and aggressive tendencies, paranoia and hallucinations, and at times highly elevated blood pressure with risk of stroke and heart attack. On the other hand, drugs with a depressant effect on the brain and body systems such as opiates, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates can make the user unusually slow, sluggish and lethargic. Speech can be slurred and body movements slowed. In extreme cases respiration can be slowed to dangerous levels and death can occur due to breathing cessation. Death can also occur due to accidental and or purposeful overdose and suicide.

Behavioral and emotional changes as a result of addiction can be dramatic affecting functioning in every area of an addict’s life. Addiction changes the way the addict perceives and deals with life. Often, behaviors become irresponsible and unpredictable, eventually causing serious problems at school, work and home. Family relationships and friendships change for the worse and an overall decline in the quality of life takes place. Dramatic changes in mood, where one swings from being engaging, excited and euphoric to becoming isolative, angry and sullen are not uncommon. Irrationality and impulsivity can take hold and addicts often become abusive to partners or family members.

Addiction, being an all-consuming disease, sucks off all the emotional, mental and physical energy from an addict so that he/she will frequently isolate from friends, family or anyone else who might take away from their time and energy to take care of his/her addiction. Addicted parents often lose custody of their children because they are no longer deemed to be fit parents who can take care of their kids and are likely to neglect their basic needs.

 

When it comes to alcohol and drugs, tolerance and withdrawal are two closely related phenomenon that make it much more difficult for the abuser to stop using the substance. Tolerance refers to the process where the user has to use more and more of a given substance in order to obtain the effects they once got after consuming a lesser quantity of the same substance. Quitting or reducing substances that result in tolerance can cause very unpleasant and in some cases medically serious withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be relatively benign such as headaches, insomnia, restlessness, irritability or flu like symptoms, or they can be extremely serious such as delirium tremens and seizures in the case of withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines and barbiturates.  For these latter situations, a medically supervised detox in an appropriate facility is needed.

Addiction is a serious medical illness and often causes much more disruption and dysfunction in an addict’s life than many other chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. It is unfortunate that while as a society we pay much more attention and allocate much more resources to these latter types versus how we treat addictions. Addictions, if remain untreated, can not only cause a downward spiral into behaviors that can destroy careers and relationships and cause significant health problems, but which can eventually lead to an addict’s demise and death. Due to a lack of public education and the associated stigma, for most who suffer from addictive disorders, it is often a challenge to cope with their disease on their own, but there is reliable information and help available and one does not need to struggle with this alone. While addiction is indeed a very difficult and challenging problem, there is hope. Addiction Rehab professionals can help you or your loved ones to get their life back. Making a call today can be the start of the dawn of a new beginning. Call and talk to a rehab professional today that understands what you are going through. Call 888-786-9570 for addiction treatment referrals or click here and let us help you get back the life you deserve.