Today’s society is one inundated by the disease of addiction and its painful consequences; the results of addiction can be seen on a spectrum ranging from individual suffering to having large scale implications on society as a whole. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary addiction can be defined as a “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance … characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal…persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. Addiction has also been referred to as both a physical craving and the psychological learning behavior in which the person develops a primary relationship; a committed love relationship with the chemical(s). Addiction is not a new concept; the first known use of “addiction” was expressed in 1599; since this time its occurrence and impact has become widespread. Why then has it taken us so long to address this problem head on? The stigma and the shame associated with addictions must be erased so that society is able to tackle this epidemic successfully, this starts with education.
There are various behaviors and objects that can become addicting for an individual, among these, the addiction to drugs and alcohol is one of the most common. According to a 1992 Library Journal article, 45 million Americans attend 140 different kinds of weekly recovery groups. Another 100 million are trying to help those who are in recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, the good news is you are not alone and there is plenty of help!
The first step in educating yourself on addiction is learning how to recognize when it is present. How do you know if the problem is truly addiction? There are times when someone may identify that they have a problem but may be unsure if it is actually addiction they are struggling with, in these cases it is helpful to have a few signs to look for. The first sign of drug/alcohol addiction is that it consumes the individuals focus. Drugs and alcohol will begin consuming large amounts of the individual’s time, thoughts and energy; once the chemical is obtained the need for more sets in. Another sign to look for is an increased tolerance built by the individual with the addiction. The amount of the chemical needed will continue to increase for the individual to reach the same effect or “high” as they used to need. It is common for the addict to act in denial of their addiction; they will often believe it is possible for them to stop whenever they want. Negative consequences of addiction are unavoidable; addiction harms the lives of the addict and those who love them. Despite continued negative consequences, those who suffer from addiction will continue to use because the addiction has robbed them of their self-control. Finally, those who have become dependent on a chemical substance will typically experience painful physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop using. While each of these symptoms is not required for someone to be suffering from addiction, however, when several of these characteristics are found together the likelihood of addiction becomes strong.
If you believe you or someone you love is suffering with addiction it is time to break the cycle! Addiction is a progressive disease that will only worsen if not treated. Seeking professional treatment based on 12-Step principles has been found to have the most successful outcomes. When you just can’t stop, seek the help of others, overcome addiction today!