Addiction Treatment

What Is Addiction?

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Last updated: 09/17/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Addiction is a serious disorder that many people, unfortunately, suffer from. Without treatment, it can be extremely difficult to manage this issue and gain back control of your life.

Defining Addiction

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking, or using something, to the point where it could be harmful to you. Even more importantly, it is a disease, something that often cannot be fought and ended through determination alone. Many individuals who attempt to overcome it in this way fail because of the nature of the disease.

Addiction can manifest in a number of different ways. A person can be addicted to a behavior, a substance, a feeling, etc. But there are two aspects of the problem that makes all of these disorders similar.

  • An addiction cannot be controlled by the person suffering from it. It is compulsive, and they will often participate in the behavior (smoking, drinking, etc.) even if they want to stop.
  • An addiction is harmful to the individual and, often, to those around them.

Why Does Addiction Occur?

In the case of substance abuse, addiction occurs because the drug being abused changes the way the brain works. Many common drugs affect the brain’s ‘reward circuit’ by flooding it with the chemical called dopamine.” As the person continues to use, their brain will often come to crave this feeling, and at the same time, it will become tolerant to the effects of the drug. This causes the individual to continue using and in larger and larger amounts.

Not everyone becomes an addict when it comes to substance abuse or behavioral issues, but an individual’s chances of doing so become higher as a result of certain risk factors. These can include biological, environmental, and developmental factors that can increase one’s chances of succumbing to the disease. It is important to understand how many of these may affect you and to avoid using drugs or participating in other dangerous behaviors, especially if you suffer from a lot of them.

How Can I Recognize Addiction?

Being able to recognize an addiction is easy when you know what to look for. The nature of the issue means the individual’s behavior will be compulsive and harmful. They will often continue to engage in this behavior no matter how harmful it becomes and even if they realize themselves that it is hurting them and those they love.

Below are some of the ways that you can recognize an addiction, especially when associated with substance abuse.

  • Hostility toward those who confront the individual about their problem
  • Neglecting to eat, sleep, or manage personal hygiene
  • No longer participating in activities they once loved
  • Secretive behavior
  • A decreased performance in work or school
  • Making excuses to continue the behavior
  • Serious issues occurring (such as getting fired, getting arrested, having fights with loved ones, etc.) that are often related to the behavior

If someone you love is exhibiting these behaviors, they are likely suffering from an addiction.

Can It Be Treated?

Drug and alcohol addiction can be treated, and there are also a number of methods approved and utilized for the treatment of behavioral addictions. However, as stated above, addiction is a disease, and even with treatment, it often does not entirely go away. In most cases, long-term or multiple treatment episodes are necessary for a strong recovery.

Instead, it is extremely important to prevent this issue in every way possible before it occurs. Those who do become addicts can be treated, though, and often, can put an end to their dangerous behavior with the help of professional rehab to teach them better life skills and provide them with helpful options for recovery.

How Our Helpline Works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the Addictions.com helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither Addictions.com nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.