What is Addiction?



  1. the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

Addiction can come in many shapes and sizes, and one very important piece to remember is that addiction does not discriminate. No one is immune to addiction. Opioids do not care if you are rich, if you are poor, if you are black or if you are white, if you live in the country or if you live in the city, if you were on the honor roll or if you failed school, if you have a career or if you are unemployed.

When someone is addicted to a substance and they are unable to stop without help, they are a hostage to the substance and they lose the power of choice.

Addiction creeps in slowly with promises of great things, but then addiction takes away what was promised and everything else.

Many times addiction is a coping mechanism to avoid the pain and feelings that developed because of trauma.

Addiction is a disease of the brain. Affected brains do not have enough chemicals to feel pleasure from doing things like petting a puppy or eating a slice of cake. When the affected brain is exposed to substances, those pleasure chemicals rise to more normal levels allowing the individual to feel pleasure. For this reason, the affected brain craves more of the substance in order to continue to feel normal. The brain forces the invidividual to continue to use the substance much like an unaffected brain would force an individual to eat if you were starving.

For individuals who are using illicit substances to manage their mental disorders, until the underlying mental disorder is addressed and treated, the reliance on illicit substances will continue.

For those of you who can say they tried an illicit substance and did not develop an addiction – here is an explanation: some individuals are born with certain genes when combined with environmental influences are at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of mental disorders may also influence the risk of addiction. Many influences come from an individual’s environment, including their friends, family, socioeconomic status, and their quality of life. Peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can also influence the risk of addiction. The adolsecent brain is still developing important areas like decision making, judgement, and self-control and therefore, they are more prone to risk-taking behaviors including trying illicit substances. The earlier an individual uses an illicit substance in their life they will have an increased risk of progression to more serious abuse.

Seek to understand; don’t hate the individual with an addiction, hate the disease; don’t hate the indivdiual, hate the behavior. If you think it is hard to watch, imagine how hard it is to live it.


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