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Alcohol and Drug Addiction – Definition, Causes and Treatment Options

Addiction is a primary condition that affects brain reward, motivation, memory, and particular circuitry. These reward circuits’ dysregulation often leads to biological, emotional, and psychosocial changes.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is more than a simple behavioral condition. It is a condition that affects neurotransmission and function within our brain’s reward structure.

Here are some addictive behaviors that commonly presents: Themselves by:

  • The inability to consistently abstain from the harmful substance.
  • Behavioral control impairment.
  • Continually increasing craving for a substance or rewarding experiences.
  • Lack of acceptance or recognition of the level of problems and adverse effects results from the addiction.
  • The damage of interpersonal relationships
  • Continuous dysfunctional of emotional responses

Synthetic opioid drugs like Fentany, are to blame for more fatal overdoses in 2016 than prescription painkillers.

Is Addiction a Disease or a Temporary Condition?

I believe that calling addiction a disease is a narrow and maybe even false conclusion. Individuals suffering from addiction are often stripped of their fundamental freedoms to live life like everyone else, without stigma. Calling addiction a “disease” implies the individual suffering from it is sick, ill, or not healthy. If we believe addiction is a disease, or even worst, a chronic disease, then you will also think addiction treatment should last a lifetime — a notion that makes Big Pharma and Rehab Centers billions of dollars yearly.

Addiction is NOT a Disease

Now, if you believe addiction is a condition, a treatable condition, then it becomes a temporary issue, one that has a practical solution. Although successful addiction treatment is not just possible but prevalent, a fast resolution is not as profitable as endless treatment. So as you see, the problem is how we view addiction and how we treat it.

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Drugs Misuse and the Brain

It is imperative to draw a clear distinction between drug dependence (a pharmacological phenomenon) and drug addiction, a term with multiple unclear definitions.

Drug addiction is usually characterized as a compulsive need to use a drug despite its negative consequences—Sometimes described as the inability to stop using a drug despite its negative implications on a person’s financial, professional, social, or family obligations. Sadly enough, people use these two terms interchangeably because of the lack of understanding. While drug addiction is a deeply ingrained behavior that can be hard to change,  dependence is a physical condition that is easily reversible with adequate medical care.

Most importantly, addiction does not define a person; it is a treatable condition. A daily drug habit may eventually develop a physical dependence, leading to addiction. When a physical dependence occurs and is not treated correctly, the need to feed this tolerance can supersede a person’s desire to make the right choice. When you cannot control your decisions, you are highly likely to develop an addiction. Once addicted to drugs, a person’s actions could become harmful and even dangerous.

Addiction Myth and Stigma

The term “drug addiction” often carries a bad association in social circles. Nowadays, the “drug-addicted” label has a life of its own, where it someone’s as a living breathing entity; a disease. The media and society have a misconstrued notion of the condition really is, and they often label people as “drug addicts.” Sadly, this habit of stigmatizing a condition has kept many people from seeking the real help they so desperately need.

Many people don’t understand how someone can become addicted to drugs. They see it as a lack of moral principles and willpower. They also believe that they behave in that manner because they choose to. The reality is that addiction to drugs causes a complex physiological condition that affects every part of someones being. Quitting takes much more than good intentions or willpower. Fortunately, science has come a long way. Scientists have a better understanding of how drugs affect the brain, and more effective treatments are available. People can actually fully recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.

Is Addiction Genetic? What are the Causes?

No one single factor be responsible for someone’s addiction or predict the possibility of becoming addicted.
Some researchers believe that DNA can play a significant part in someone’s addiction risks, but that is not 100% proven yet. What we know for sure is that some of the leading factors are:

  • The presence of untreated mental disorders – Emotional distress is the most common reason we see in our patients; often depression, anxiety, and bipolar conditions. The need to self-medicate constant emotional pain becomes overwhelming.
  • Environment – This can include family and friends (peer pressure). Economic status and general quality of life.
  • Trauma – physical and sexual abuse are common triggers for drug use and addiction.
  • Development – The earlier in life, one is exposed to drug use, the more likely it will progress into a full-blown addiction. Drug use is particularly an issue for teenagers, in whom the areas of their brains that controls decision-making and self-control are still developing.

Untreated or misdiagnosed conditions such as depression, anxiety, and trauma are commonly masked with opioids and benzodiazepines. Often the lack of ability to deal with feelings such as frustration, loneliness, and sadness can also create drug abuse. As the drug abuse continues, the person’s brain adapts to surges of dopamine and starts naturally producing less or reducing dopamine receptors. Dopamine is the body’s reward activator, which controls the brain’s pleasure center while encouraging us to engage in thrill-seeking activities. Therefore, the user keeps abusing the drugs to bring the dopamine function back to normal or use more drugs to reach a dopamine high.

Addiction Treatment Services

Research continuously shows that combining inpatient medical detoxification with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure recovery success. Fortunately, science has evolved tremendously over the last two decades. One of the main breakthroughs is the Waismann Method of anesthesia-assisted rapid detox.  As with most other physiological conditions, addiction is treatable.  Treatment protocols that are provided based on each patient’s drug-using history and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to complete recovery success.

Other good news is that drug cravings are also preventable with nonaddictive medications.  Naltrexone therapy is one of the most successful forms of craving management. The Waismann Method® patients have been taking Naltrexone immediately after rapid detox, which ensures a much higher success rate of maintaining sobriety.

Continuous drug use changes the brain’s reward circuit function, by flooding it with dopamine. This overstimulation of the brain causes an intensely pleasurable euphoria, which leads people to keep taking the drug.

Much of society has learned to equate drug dependence and addiction with a weak character, a lack of morals or integrity. In truth, a person who has become drug dependent suffers from a medical condition that requires medical care. As with all medical conditions, reading a self-help book regarding or attending a meeting may be incredibly supportive, but by no means replaces the need for medical treatment.

How to Overcome a Drug Addiction?

Treatment for alcohol or drug addiction is available in many different forms and settings. Most substance abuse treatments offer a variety of behavioral and mental health approaches. But only a few provide adequate medical support a patient requires through the detoxification period.

Detoxification or detox aims to enable the person to stop taking the drug as comfortably and as safely as possible. For most individuals, the most effective way is inpatient and under supervised medical care. Others may try to detox at home or in a non-medical residential treatment center, where the safety and effectiveness are put at risk due to the lack of medical recourse. Withdrawal from different categories of drugs can produce various side effects and usually requires different approaches.

The Emotional Effects of Drug Abuse

It is essential to have an individualized emotional assessment to achieve a successful drug treatment program. — More often than not, individuals use different substances to mask emotions they cannot handle. In some cases, mental illness can be confused with negative behavior. Therefore, there should not be one answer for all. – Different individuals have different profiles, which might require different approaches.

Talk therapy or psychotherapy by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or an MFT.

A psychotherapist can:

  • Help the individual develop ways to cope with anger and frustration.
  • Suggest strategies to avoid situations where drug cravings occur.
  • Offer suggestions on how to deal with setbacks if it occurs
  • Talk about issues that can affect someone’s professional life, legal issues, relationships, and family.
  • Help develop better communication skills to deal with others.

A psychiatrist can:

  • Diagnose, treat and prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders
  • Prescribe a non-addictive medication to control drug cravings
  • Assess and manage chemical imbalances that can be the culprit of depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses that can lead to drug addiction.

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Treatment Approaches for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Because of this condition’s complexity and the harmful consequences, drug addiction treatment should involve many components.

Although there are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the US, the long-term success rate remains very low. Treatment for alcohol abuse and drug addiction has not been very effective in the past. Counseling, group therapy, peer support, or, more recently, MAT ( Medication-Assisted Therapy) has not solved the emotional pain, which is the primary cause of substance abuse. Along with specialized physicians that can effectively and safely manage detox, people should also receive an in-depth emotional and psychiatric diagnosis. Just then, a proper plan of treatment should be followed. Once successful detoxification is provided, various therapeutic interventions or services should follow.

Scientists often describe drug addiction as a brain disease, but society still sees it as a moral failure. We view it as a condition caused by an untreated or poorly managed medical, psychological, or psychiatric problem. The difficulty in one existing solution exists because we are all different. Various developmental histories can cause some internal conflicts and abilities to handle situations. We have different inner strengths and vulnerabilities because our internal needs and external environments differ.

Even though we may differ, the predominant characteristic factor between us is that we want to feel physically and emotionally well. We want to connect well with each other because this connection makes us feel part of the human race. It is important to be part of the world we live in without feeling like an outcast. To achieve physical and emotional health, we need to bring meaning to each other’s lives.

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