If you’ve been sifting through pages of addiction information and are still left puzzled, you’re not alone.
There is an overwhelming amount of addiction information available and it can be difficult to understand because addiction differs so much from person to person.
If you or a loved one has an addiction problem, it is important to know the basics of addiction. This will help you to understand and recognise certain behaviours in yourself or another person.
Here are three important questions and answers that will give you some essential addiction information.
What Is Addiction?
There are two types of addiction: physiological and psychological.
• Physiological Addiction means that your body has become dependent on an addictive substance such as drugs or alcohol, and when you stop taking it; your body starts to experience physical withdrawal symptoms that can include, among other things, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains.
When you stop taking the drugs or alcohol, your brain exerts pressure that tries to get you to give it the addictive substance. This attempt to restore balance results in a craving.
A chemical dependency, such as drug and alcohol addiction, is seen as a chronic disease that is not curable, but treatable, and the treatment is lifelong whether formal or informal. If not treated, a drug and alcohol addiction can result in death caused by related health problems, accidents or other traumatic events.
• Psychological Addiction can include anything from substance abuse to sexual addiction and gambling, and your body is not necessarily dependant on a substance. When you have a psychological addiction, you often try to get rid of severe stress and anxiety regardless of the consequences it may have.
A psychological addiction provides an escape from hard-to-handle situations or negative feelings.
Why Do People Drink or Take Drugs?
It’s sometimes assumed, due the stigma associated with addiction, that people who become addicted had initially sought to become involved in addictive behaviour to “alter their state of consciousness” or to escape the burden of life as they’re are afraid or incapable of handling it!
The reality is that most people that become addicted to alcohol and other drugs are of above average intelligence and earning capacity. The reality is that around 10% of the world’s population is addicted and no-one actively choose to become that way.
There are four main reasons why people start drinking or taking drugs:
• To feel good. Most alcohol and drugs give you intense feelings of pleasure.
• To feel more confident in social situations and to relieve stress and depression.
• To improve athletic or cognitive performance.
• Curiosity. This is especially relevant with teenagers as their friends have a big influence on them and they are more likely to get involved in activities that are seen as “daring” and “exciting”.
What Causes or Influences Addiction?
There is no single factor that determines whether you’ll become addicted to a substance or behaviour, but there are factors that can contribute to the likelihood of you or a loved one becoming an addict. These factors may include:
Research suggests that addiction can be hereditary and if your parents suffered with addiction problems, it can add 40% to the likelihood of you becoming an addict.
Early Use of Drugs and Alcohol
Studies have shown that if you have not abused drugs or alcohol by the age of 21, you have a better chance of never being addicted to anything. Parents need to be good role models and communicate and educate their children to prevent early use of drugs and alcohol. Early use can increase your chance of becoming a full-blown addict in adulthood.
Family, Home and Childhood Experiences
If your home was one filled with conflict and fighting, or physical or verbal abuse, there is a good chance you would have felt frightened, angry and unsafe. Any unresolved feelings of insecurity can be carried with you into adulthood and they may influence whether or not you become addicted to a substance or behaviour as a way to temporarily change those feelings.
Current Social Group and Life Situation
When you are young, you are constantly exploring and trying to figure out who you are. If you are surrounded by people who drink excessively, or take drugs, they can influence you to follow the same path. People who are shy or socially awkward may find themselves drinking or taking drugs in an effort to become more confident.
Type of Addictive Substance Used
Some drugs are more addictive than others and the way you take the drug can also determine how addictive it is. Drugs that are smoked or injected can be highly addictive and work faster than other drugs, giving you extreme highs and lows in a shorter amount of time.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction problem, understanding how addiction works can be an important step in your recovery.
Your addiction treatment will most likely take a different route depending on whether you have a physiological or a psychological addiction. In the same way, determining the source of your addiction, such as a bad childhood experience, can affect your addiction treatment.
A registered rehab centre will be able to provide you with all the addiction information you need, as well as help and support to overcome an addiction problem. We Do Recover is an organisation that will help you find the right one for you.