What Is Drug Addiction Characterized By? And Why Recovery Is Possible!
There has long been a negative stigma associated with addiction. While advances in therapy and medical research have changed the way we talk about the disease of addiction, millions of Americans try drugs like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or heroin for the first time each year, and a large percentage are unable to stop without help. So what is drug addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as, “a chronic, relapsing [set of actions] characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.”
Addiction can result from various factors and catalysts, including genetic predisposition, circumstances, environment, trauma, and mental health disorders. While addiction often starts with drug use, it is not an indication of a person’s moral status or stability. Many addictions spring from prescription drug use or casual use of legal substances.
If you’re still unsure if you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use issue, read the following criteria here:
- Hazardous use: You’ve used the substance in ways that are dangerous to yourself and/or others, i.e., overdosed, driven while under the influence, or blacked out.
- Social or interpersonal problems related to use: Your substance use has caused relationship problems or conflicts with others.
- Neglected major roles to use: You’ve failed to meet your responsibilities at work, school, or home from your substance use.
- Withdrawal: When you’ve stopped using the substance, you’ve experienced withdrawal symptoms.
- Tolerance: You’ve built up a tolerance to the substance so that you have to use more to get the same effect.
- Some used larger amounts/longer: You’ve started to use larger amounts or use the substance for longer amounts of time.
- Repeated attempts to control use or quit: You’ve tried to cut back or quit entirely, but haven’t been successful.
- Much time spent using: You spend much of your time using the substance.
- Physical or psychological problems related to use: Your substance use has led to physical health problems like liver damage or lung cancer, or psychological issues, like depression or anxiety.
- Activities given up to use: You’ve skipped activities or stopped doing activities you once enjoyed using the substance.
- Craving: You’ve experienced cravings for the substance.
The Difference Between Drug Addiction and Dependence
As you read above, addiction is characterized by drug or substance use despite the harmful consequences. Another key part of addiction is the compulsion to continue taking the drug or substance when you know it will lead to harmful situations, or are seeking it out and neglecting other parts of your life.
Dependence is when your body becomes used to a drug and leads to taking larger doses to achieve the same effects the smaller dose created. Your body can even develop a dependence (tolerance) to some prescription drugs. Although dependence and addiction aren’t always present at the same time, dependence can lead to addiction.
Recovery From Drug Addiction Is Possible With Treatment
As humans, when things get tough, we tend to fall back into our old (unhealthy) patterns. To overcome an addiction–something that takes significant hard work and personal dedication–we desperately need support and encouragement.
When we read powerful and inspiring quotes, they make sense to us. The words resonate with us internally and have a positive impact; they give us the push we need on our way to become our best selves.
If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired and only contemplating sobriety, take a look at the five quotes below. They might just inspire you to take the first step towards the rest of your life.
“It won’t be like this forever.” Addiction makes a person feel hopeless and trapped. It controls us and makes us forget who we used to be. But the path of recovery is a step towards gaining control of your life once again. You no longer have to be a slave to the disease of drug addiction. And with sobriety, it is possible to gain back that sense of freedom you believed you lost so long ago.
“No matter what the situation is, remind yourself ‘I have a choice.’” Sobriety is a choice. Ultimately, it’s up to us–and us alone–to come out of denial and perform the first step towards recovery. Likewise, when we’re faced with an unexpected setback or a strong urge to use, we have the power to determine the outcome. Effective treatment can help us identify and overcome our triggers, as well as allow us to make our own decisions about how to respond.
“You are stronger than you think.” Many of us believe there’s no way we’ll ever give up drugs or alcohol, but we underestimate the strength within ourselves. Sure, the easier route may be to give up and go back to our old ways, but we are fully capable of beating this disease once and for all. All it takes is focus, determination, and hard work.
“When everything seems like an uphill struggle, simply think of the view from the top.” Nobody ever said recovery was easy, and it takes discipline to maintain it long-term. And while the uphill climb may seem impossible at first, the result is one of the most rewarding accomplishments you’ll ever experience. The reward is regaining your life and reaching your true potential, making the tough work at the beginning totally worth it.
“You’re worth it.” Many of us suffer from low self-esteem, which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of addiction. But struggling with an addiction doesn’t mean we’re incapable, weak, or unworthy. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can’t change our lives around and move past the disease holding us back. We are all worthy of being happy and living our lives to the fullest. Embrace your worth as a human being and never settle for anything less than the healthy, happy, and sober life you deserve.
What is Drug Addiction – Additional Resources
If you feel like you are finally ready to receive help for your drug addiction, check out the several resources we have compiled for you:
- 3 common gateway drugs to addiction
- The benefits of holistic treatment
- Advice to parents of addicts, from former drug addicts
And here are all our locations at Shadow Mountain Recovery where you or a loved one can finally get your life back on track. We have experienced staff that can help combat addiction to any drug, and we specialize in holistic treatment to treat the mind, body, and spirit.
- Taos Recovery Center in New Mexico
- Albuquerque Recovery Center in New Mexico
- Shadow Mountain Recovery in Santa Fe
If you or a loved one needs an individualized treatment plan to help with addiction, call Shadow Mountain Recovery today: (855) 980-7336
Drug Addiction FAQs
What Does Drug Addiction Mean?
Its definition is “…a chronic, relapsing [set of actions] characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” Drug addiction means someone feels a pull to use a drug or substance despite the negative outcomes it will have on their life. That feeling of “needing” the drug or substance can also lead to someone seeking out the drug no matter what, even in ways that hurt them emotionally, physically, and socially. Another aspect of drug addiction is feeling as if you cannot stop using the drug or substance, that it has power over you, and guides all your decisions.
Why Do People Get Addicted?
There isn’t one reason. It’s a long list of factors that include a person’s environment, genetics, economic situation, learned behaviors, and more. Every person is complex and the reasons for one person becoming addicted won’t necessarily be the same as someone else’s.
What Are the Four Types of Drugs?
The four main types of drugs are stimulants, depressants, opium-related painkillers, and hallucinogens. An example of each is methamphetamine (stimulant), alcohol (depressant), Oxycontin (opium-related painkiller), and LSD (hallucinogen).
What Are the Effects of the Drugs?
Stimulants result in a feeling of energy and are sometimes called “uppers” because of this result. They stimulate your brain/body, hence the name. Depressants, on the other hand, slow your brain and body down, and for this reason, are called “downers.” Opium-related painkillers lessen pain, but also can lead to euphoria (the “high” feeling), sluggishness, or “relaxed” muscles. Hallucinogens make you hallucinate, which is when you perceive images, sights, and sometimes even smells that are not truly there.