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What is Addiction?

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a disease affecting more than 23 million Americans.

People also suffer from behavioral addictions, a category that includes activities or things to which a person can become addicted, such as sex, the Internet, exercise, video games, gambling, tanning, and food, although gambling is the only officially recognized behavioral addiction according to the current diagnostic manual.

A person struggling with addiction loses control over his or her life, becoming a victim to the disease. Such people often obsess over the substance or activity to which they are addicted, compulsively acting to continually get more and more of it, to the detriment of their physical, mental and emotional health. Although addiction can cause havoc in a person’s life, it is a treatable condition. Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers offers treatment for addiction. You can find out more by calling our Admissions team at number.

Addiction Defined

Addiction is a complex and chronic disease of the brain that typically affects the reward center. Substance abuse, or other addicting activities, alters the chemistry of the brain until a person is dependent upon the substance, either emotionally or physically. The main component of the brain affected by these substances or behaviors is the neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, which plays a major role in the reward response.

When the brain’s reward response center becomes dysfunctional, it causes a person to compulsively pursue unhealthy substances or behaviors to achieve short-term stimulation and relief from cravings. However, this only provides temporary reprieve. When a person becomes addicted to something, he or she builds up a tolerance, so it takes more and more of a substance or activity in order to feel the same response. Sometimes, the substances alter the chemistry of the brain to where the body becomes dependent upon the substance in order to function.

Types of Addiction

Addiction is part of the spectrum of substance abuse disorders, which includes substance abuse and substance dependency. Substance abuse describes a behavioral pattern where a person turns to a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, to alter his or her mood, while dependency occurs when the body forms a physical dependence on a substance.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance, and an estimated 17.6 million Americans over the age of 12 have alcohol abuse or dependence, making alcohol addiction one of the most common types of addiction. Drug addictions, which could include prescription drugs, heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, and others, are also common problems in America. Some substances are more addictive than others. For example, heroin addiction and cocaine addiction are common, even in those who only have tried the drug once, because the drugs are so powerfully addictive.

Prolonged Addiction

It is very important to get drug or alcohol addiction help as early as possible. Although approximately 23.5 million Americans suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol, only 1 in 10 seeks treatment. Without treatment, addiction can lead to health problems and even result in death. Prolonged addiction increases the risk of chronic and potentially lethal health problems, as well as making the recovery process more difficult.

Addiction in Children and Adolescents

It is important to teach children and adolescents alcohol and drug addiction facts to prevent them from abusing substances and possibly becoming addicted. Studies have shown that unhealthy behavior patterns and mental health problems that occur in childhood and adolescence become worse in adulthood. Additionally, if a person uses a substance during this important time of development, it can have long lasting negative effects to his or her health and cognitive function. Studies have shown that abusing marijuana in adolescence disrupts the development of the brain, causing long-term damage.

Addiction in Adults

Addiction can occur in anyone of any age, gender, race, socioeconomic background, and background. Many people turn to substances to find relief from stress or negative emotions, which can quickly lead to addiction. Some people suffering from substance abuse or addiction problems also have one or more additional behavioral health disorders. This is known as a co-occurring or dual diagnosis, and treatment should address all co-occurring and underlying conditions to reduce the risk of relapse.

Addiction in the Elderly

Substance abuse and addiction is not just a young person’s problem; senior citizens also can become addicted to substances. It is common for older people to feel depressed and become isolated due to the death of a spouse or partner, children leaving home, retiring, and losing mobility. Some elderly people turn to substances to appease their emotional or physical pain, which can lead to addiction.

Genetics of Addiction

Genetics plays a significant role in addiction. Although anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, those with a family history have a significantly higher risk. Scientists have yet to pinpoint all the genes associated with addiction, but they have found certain ones that seem to have some link to addiction.

Addiction Treatment Programs

Luckily, a person can get help for drug and alcohol addictions. Addiction services, like the ones at Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC), can help a person recover from alcohol or drug addiction. Patients are screened and treated for all underlying and co-occurring conditions in order to reduce the risk of relapse. Through customized programming that combines individual and group therapy and complementary alternative therapeutic activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, equine therapy, and music therapy, the programs at DTRC treat the person, not the disorder, for a well-balanced, holistic treatment. Call our Admissions team at (305) 615-2028 to find out more.

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