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Addiction is a complex brain disorder involving the compulsive use of substances or behaviors despite negative consequences.
In addiction, the brain's reward system (which involves important neurotransmitters associated with pleasurable feelings, such as dopamine) works improperly, leading to a psychological craving for the addictive stimulus in question, and subsequent use of the addictive stimulus, even despite negative repercussions.
Although addiction is popularly associated with substances both legal and illegal, such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, any substance or activity that involves the brain's reward system can potentially be seen as addictive. Other forms of addiction include gambling addiction, sex addiction, food addiction, and even video game or social media addiction.
While some forms of addiction are more harmful to individuals than others, all addictions have the potential to create a significant negative impact on those who struggle with addiction. Indeed, the persistence of use of an addictive stimulus in the face of negative consequences is a key symptom of addiction, and a powerful sign that an individual needs to seek help.
Although once thought to be the result of moral weakness, addiction is now understood to be a biological disorder with a number of root causes, both environmental and genetic. Modern imaging techniques have shown significant changes in the brains of addicts, and these biomarkers have gone a long way to increase our understanding of addiction and its potential treatments.
Certain genes may predispose you to addiction, and many addicts report having family members who also struggle with addiction, although the idea of an "addictive personality" has been debunked. Environmental factors, such as experiencing traumatic events or comorbid mental illnesses like depression, may additionally play a role in the development of addiction.
The symptoms of addiction can vary from person to person, and from substance to substance, although there are a few central symptoms that you should be aware of. You may be struggling with an addiction if you notice any of the following signs:
If you struggle with addiction of any kind, it is important to remember that your addiction is not your fault. While our understanding of addiction is still evolving and is far from complete, addiction is far better understood than it was even a few decades ago, and as a result, there are far better treatment options available for those struggling with addiction.
Addiction is one of the most stigmatized and misunderstood conditions an individual can struggle with. Despite a massive body of scientific knowledge indicating that addiction is a disorder with biological roots, many still believe that addiction is primarily a result of moral failure or a "lack of character".
Harmful myths such as these often contribute to the burden of addiction, and make those struggling with the condition less likely to seek help.
Despite this, today there are many treatment options available for those struggling with addiction, and many addicts are able to recover and lead happy, productive lives, provided they seek proper care for their condition. It is crucial that an individual who struggles with addiction seek help when attempting to get sober.
Certain substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can cause potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, substances such as opiates may have withdrawals that, while not necessarily fatal, can be excruciatingly painful, and may lead to the addict relapsing in an effort to stop the pain. Because of this, it is recommended that everyone who struggles with addiction seek professional help before attempting to quit.
Addiction, unfortunately, is a lifelong condition that must be managed. Even addicts who have been sober for years are at risk of relapsing and returning to their old behavioral patterns. Despite this, however, there is hope-- recovery rates for addiction are on the rise, and many addicts are able to end their addictive behavioral patterns and lead happy, fulfilled lives.
If you're struggling with addiction, you may feel hopeless. These feelings are a normal part of the disorder, and fortunately for you, are just that-- feelings.
If you're ready to take the first step towards a happier, healthier life, our team of qualified professionals at Overcomers Counseling are ready to help. Send us an e-mail or give us a call. We can't wait to help get you started on your journey to recovery. Call 719-345-2424.