Drug and alcohol addiction is widely accepted with a common tern addiction but the real fact is millions of people suffer from all kinds of addictions. Some of these addictions are related to some form of chemical dependency such as alcohol, controlled substances and even prescriptions drugs. Other addictions are related to compulsive types of behavior such as gambling, shopping, food disorders and eating, sex and even the Internet. One of the most important things to recognize about any type of addiction, regardless of whether it is a chemical addition or a behavioral addiction; is that it is not a matter of choice. Individuals who are addicts do not have the ability to simply decide to stop abusing their ‘drug’ of choice. Addictions affect not only the user, but their family and friends as well.
So, what is an addiction? How does it begin and when does a pattern of behavior become an addiction? Some individuals seem to have the ability to use a substance or engage in a behavior periodically over a period of years without becoming ‘hooked.’ Others; however are not capable of stopped and become addicted. Addictions affect all social and educational groups. There is no typical addict. The causes of addiction have been studied for a number of years. In many ways, addiction is caused by the feeling that the substance or behavior brings about in the user. The body, and mind, becomes dependent on that feeling and seeks to maintain it.
There are addiction risk factors that make some people more likely than others to become addicts. Studies indicate that in some cases addictions can be hereditary. The child of an alcoholic may not grow up to become an alcoholic, however; they become addicted to gambling or some other type of compulsive behavior as an adult. Besides heredity, individuals who grow up in families with abuse, neglect and who are impoverished and undereducated are more likely to become addicts than those who do not.
For most addicts, it can be extremely difficult to recognize that what they have associated as simply a habit is actually an addiction. While every individual and addiction is different there are some symptoms that are prevalent among most addicts and addictions.
Unable to meet responsibilities at home, school or office; Continues to use substance or engage in behavior even when it is dangerous; The need increases to engage in behavior or use more of the substance to achieve the same effect or feeling; Has tried but failed to stop using the substance or end the behavior; Continues to engage in the behavior or use the substance even when they know the dangers.
Answering yes to three or more of the above symptoms during a twelve month period may indicate that you or a loved one has an addiction. The first step to treating an addiction is recognizing that it exists. There is no cure for addiction. Treatment and counseling can help an addict learn to control their behavior, withstand impulses and recognize the presence of a problem, but an addict is never cured. Treating an addiction can take years and requires ongoing support from friends, families and =resource/support groups. A 12 step program can be particularly beneficial in treating an addiction. One of the most well known 12 step programs is AA, also known as Alcoholics Anonymous; however there are similar programs for all kinds of addictions.
Living with an addiction requires a daily commitment and there is always the possibility of relapsing. An addict, who has been ‘sober’ for even twenty years, can succumb to temptation just as easily as they did decades before. There are a number of treatment programs and centers that can help with the numerous types of addictions that are prevalent today. Many of them are anonymous. Support groups are also available to assist family and friends who are dealing with effects of an addiction in a loved one. So consult a qualified medical practitioner before you start any kind of treatment process.