Out of the many nonfatal health ailments faced by people around the world, addiction is one of the most destructive. Addiction not only affects the individual with the addiction, but their behavior often causes harmful repercussions for their family and friends as well.
According to recent estimates, over 40 million individuals in the US struggle with an addiction of some sort. Some individuals struggle with alcoholism; others are chronic gamblers. Some abuse drugs regularly, and others have a spending habit they can’t keep under control.
Unfortunately, throughout your life, the chances are high that you or someone you know will suffer from addiction. Those with addiction often face life-changing consequences, such as the loss of a job or the ability to drive, ensuring enormous amounts of debt. Even so, many addicts struggle to change or improve their behavior even in the face of such adverse effects.
Despite addiction being an incredibly destructive illness, in many instances, it can be treated and improved with proper care. Whether you believe you are suffering from addiction yourself, or you’re concerned about a loved one, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you better understand addiction and potential treatment options.
The Many Faces of Addiction
Though many pervasive stereotypes surround addiction in society today, the harsh reality is that addiction does not discriminate based on race, gender, or social status. A wealthy investment banker is just as capable of suffering from addiction as a stay at home mom who spends the bulk of her day caring for her family. An elite high school athlete is just as capable of having an addiction as your friendly neighbor who runs his own small business.
Our journey throughout life can often present many difficult obstacles and setbacks that each of us handles differently. Whether it’s a loss of a family member or being laid off from a dream job, addiction can strike at any time.
In your quest to better understand addiction, it’s crucial to know that it can affect anyone, anywhere, and doesn’t always abide by the typical stereotypes of addiction today.
What Causes Addiction?
Despite its prevalence around the world, addiction continues to be heavily studied and researched by scientists to understand this incredibly powerful disease better. There are many theories as to what causes addiction, but current leading researchers believe a mixture of environmental, psychological, and environmental factors all play a part.
At its most basic level, addiction occurs as a result of a biological process in which the brain’s pleasure centers function abnormally. It’s typically believed that genetics play a sizable role in whether someone becomes an addict, but many other factors can affect one’s likelihood to develop an addiction as well.
For many alcoholics, for example, their addiction begins with exposure to alcohol at an early age, perhaps via parents who may also drink heavily. Drug addiction can also stem from exposure to powerful drugs at an early age. Sometimes this exposure is even due to a medical condition. Those who suffer from diagnosed mental health issues are likewise believed to be at an increased chance of suffering from addiction.
Regardless of why an addiction begins, it’s crucial to work towards finding an actionable treatment plan to reduce severe consequences that the addiction may ultimately cause.
One of the most common forms of addiction occurs from frequent drug use, whether that be smoking marijuana or using more dangerous drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Compared to other addictions, drug addiction correlates significantly with whether your parents used drugs as well. Though having parents who use drugs doesn’t guarantee a drug addiction, it increases the likelihood that drug addiction will occur.
Again, drug addiction does not discriminate based on age, gender, or social status. Individuals from all walks of life, unfortunately, suffer from drug addiction.
Another incredibly destructive form of addiction is alcoholism. Given that adults consuming alcohol are widely accepted today, those who are predisposed to drinking alcohol to excess can easily develop an addiction. Those who suffer from alcoholism may be able to function at a high level both personally and professionally for extended periods. Treating this form of addiction is particularly tricky as a result as the addiction may go unnoticed for some time.
A significant number of those who suffer from addiction also have mental health issues. Though the current mental health and addiction stereotypes can be harmful to those struggling with addiction, the data suggests there is at least a reasonably sizable correlation.
Those with mental illness often struggle to support themselves financially and are often unable to seek the crucial addiction treatment they need. Additionally, many medications for mental illness do not mix well with common substance addictions such as alcohol or drugs. Mental illness in itself can present a variety of significant challenges to overcome in addition to the harmful effects the addiction causes itself.
Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are all common mental illnesses that can all make treating addiction more difficult. For instance, those who suffer from depression may isolate and fail to seek the treatment or help they need from family and friends which can accelerate the issues caused by addiction.
While not everyone who suffers from addiction has a form of mental illness, in many cases, the two conditions go hand in hand.
Are you or a loved one struggling with substance addiction? You’re not alone. Give us a call today.
Other Types of Addiction and Demographics
Alcoholism and drug addiction are not the only types of addictions faced today. Many people around the world have addictions centered around gambling, shopping, and other harmful behaviors. While each specific addiction requires a unique plan of treatment, it’s important to understand that treatment plans can almost always reduce— if not eliminate— the addictive behavior completely.
Here is a brief list of the most common addictions faced today.
● Addiction to nicotine
● Addiction to caffeine
● Addiction to drugs
● Addiction to shopping/spending money
● Addiction to sex
● Addiction to pornography
● Addiction to alcohol
● Addiction to gambling
● Addiction to work
● Addiction to hoarding
Common Signs of Addiction
If you’re struggling with an addiction, think you may have an addiction, or want to help a loved one get the treatment they need, it’s important to recognize the common signs an addiction may be present. Please note, while the list below includes common signs of addiction, they do not guarantee an addiction. If you need help with your specific situation, be sure to give us a call today.
Significant changes in behavior
If you notice substantial out-of-the-norm changes in your loved one’s behavior, this could be an initial warning sign of addiction. Be on the lookout for drastic mood swings as well as changes in routine.
Loss of control
Loss of control is particularly prevalent in those who suffer from alcoholism. If drinking to excess becomes a common behavior, it may be a sign of complete loss of control. If the person in question wants to quit but can’t, that’s a tell-tale sign of addiction.
Disregard for significant negative consequences
If a serious consequence does not alter or change their behavior, it’s yet another sign they might have an addiction problem. For example, for those who are addicted to drugs, losing a job over a positive drug test will likely not cause them to change their behavior.
Additionally, if an individual is unwilling to quit a behavior despite knowing their actions cause emotional harm to close family and friends that’s a strong indication of addiction.
Denial and anger
When confronted about their behavior, many addicts will become angry or deny their actions entirely.
“I can quit drinking whenever I want.”
“I don’t have a drinking problem.”
“I only do drugs on the weekends when I’m out with friends!”
PHYSICAL SIGNS OF ADDICTION
Addiction can also present with physical symptoms. For drug users especially, you may be able to notice a significant decrease in overall health and appearance. Those who are addicted to drugs can become extremely anxious and fidgety when going even short periods without their drug of choice. Regular heroin users will also show signs of bruising.
Working to understand the typical signs of addiction can help you seek the proper treatment for your loved one. If you believe a family member or friend is suffering from addiction, we highly recommend you explore addiction treatment options as soon as you can. Delaying even just a few days or weeks to seek treatment can lead to severe financial and emotional consequences—even injury or death.
If you’re currently suffering from addiction and would like treatment, a member of our friendly staff would be happy to discuss your specific situation. All information is confidential and private.
We know how difficult dealing with addiction can be, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to help you, or a loved one, put a treatment plan in place.