Drug and Alcohol Addiction in America.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction in America.

 Trying to Understand Addiction by Looking at the Big Picture.

What Does Addiction Mean?

If you do something that is enjoyable, you will probably want to do it again. If you like it, you might do it a lot and develop a habit.

Habits are typically harmless. However, some habits can turn into significant problems.  If the problem is big enough, it is an addiction.

Addiction is where you have a psychological and physical need to indulge your addiction. It is where you are dependent on a particular substance, thing, or activity.

With any addiction tolerance levels are a factor. Tolerance issues are where you need more and more of whatever it is you are addicted to in order to achieve the same high or satisfaction.

What Is Addict Behavior?

The behavior of someone who has an active addiction can be frustrating, sad, frightening, and baffling. The power of addiction is so strong that people are often overwhelmed by it. Their words and actions are dictated by their addiction.

Here are some behavioral patterns that are associated with addiction:

  • Unsuccessful Attempts to Quit
  • Stress Triggered Relapses
  • Loss of Control
  • Lying
  • Staying Vigilant
  • More than One Addiction Problem
  • Self-Medication
  • Master Manipulator
  • Co-Existing Criminal Activities
  • Shifting the Blame/Playing the Victim
  • Violent or Abusive

Alternatively, you might be enabling your loved one’s addiction. Here are some signs that you are enabling addict behavior:

  1. Ignoring or excusing negative or dangerous behavior by denying that there is a problem
  2. By not expressing your true feelings to your loved one
  3. Putting your needs above the addict’s needs such as bailing your loved one out of jail for drug-related charges
  4. Putting the addict’s needs above yours such as sacrificing your time and safety for the benefit of your loved one’s addiction
  5. Acting out of fear
  6. Lying to protect the addict
  7. Blaming other’s for the addict’s problems or behavior
  8. Resenting the addict

Dependency Versus Addiction

Addiction and dependency are not interchangeable terms. They each mean something different. Dependence indicates there is a psychical need to engage in addictive activities.

Addiction is when behavioural changes take place and indulging the addiction becomes the priority, despite any harm it might cause the addict or their family and friends.

Typically people with an active addiction tend to act irrationally when they are not indulging their addiction.

Who is at Risk?

Psychological and environmental factors appear to be influential in determining if someone is at risk for abusing substances or indulging in other addiction problems.

Genetic factors also play a big role in determining if someone is more likely to develop an addiction problem or not.

There are some drugs, like nicotine and heroin, which experts believe are so addictive that using them excessively can cause anyone to become addicted to them.

Some risk factors that make addiction more likely include:

  • A genetic predisposition
  • Certain biological brain characteristics
  • Psychological factors and stress
  • Environmental influences like trauma or abuse
  • Using other addictive substances like nicotine or alcohol at a young age.

Just because you have some of these risk factors, it does not mean you will instantly become addicted. What it means is that the odds are higher.

The more risk factors you have, the greater chance you will have addiction problems.

Types of Addiction 

From substance abuse to gambling to stealing, addiction comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors.

Some addictions are straightforward, like substance abuse. Others are more controversial, like smartphone addiction or kleptomania.

  • Substance Abuse: Substance abuse means you are addicted to some type of substance; this is typically something like alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, meth, heroin, opioid prescription pills, benzodiazepines, and cannabis.
  • Impulse Control Disorders: This is where you have a disorder where the impulse to engage it is irresistible, and therefore it is an addiction. This includes things like intermittent explosive disorder, which is a compulsion to commit aggressive acts. Kleptomania is a compulsion to steal and falls into this category along with pyromania which is a desire to set fires. Excessive gambling is also an impulse control disorder as well.
  • Behavioral Addictions: These are types of addiction where you must engage in a specific behavior excessively to satisfy your addiction. It includes things like eating, sex, pornography, excessive computer and Internet use, playing video games, working, over -exercising, spiritual obsession, self-injury, and shopping.

Understanding the Brain’s Reward System

The euphoria that is experienced when someone indulges in his or her addiction is rooted in an increase in dopamine activity in the brain.

This reward system, better known as the mesolimbic pathway starts in the midbrain and extends out to the frontal lobes.

If we did not experience pleasure, the human race would not exist.

Eating, happiness, and sex are things that feel good, and because of this, we look for them. Dopamine is a brain chemical that is associated with pleasure along with Endorphins.

Everything that makes you feel good comes from these two brain chemicals. Addictive substances and activities affect the dopamine release in the brain’s reward pathway.

In turn, you will continue to seek out your addiction to activate the brain’s reward pathway by causing an increased release of dopamine in your system.

Is Addiction a Disease?

Addiction is considered a brain disease because after that first exposure addiction is not a choice. It is a dependency and compulsion. Addiction is a chronic condition. It is long lasting and cannot be cured.

Addiction is only controlled or managed with the use of long-term monitoring and treatment for support and recovery.

While early on it is a person’s choice to use a substance or indulge in an addictive activity, over time the brain becomes chemically altered, and that choice diminishes, free will is lost, and an addiction remains.

The most defining symptom of addiction is the loss of control over it.

Addiction is considered a disease by the healthcare industry. Associations like the American Medical Association and American Society of Addiction Medicine recognize addiction as a disease.

Just like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, addiction occurs because of environmental, biological, and behavioral factors.

Genetic risk also plays a role in the likelihood of developing an active addiction. Addiction causes changes in the brain and body. Addiction can be severe, disabling and even life-threatening.

When to Intervene?

It isn’t always easy to recognize when an addict requires help. This is especially true when it comes to behavioral addictions because everyone engages in those activities at some level.

You will want to get help when:

  • You notice that your behavior has become an obsession
  • You must indulge in the behavior frequently, either daily or multiple times a day
  • You choose the behavior above all other commitments or activities you once enjoyed.
  • Your relationships are harmed or put at risk
  • You have trouble maintaining a job, experience financial problems or face legal repercussions

Usually, there is no single reason why an addiction has developed. It is typically a combination of issues such as a genetic predisposition, trauma, and poor coping mechanisms for stress.

Overcoming an Addiction

It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with an addiction to a substance or behavior. Admitting you have a problem is the first and most important step you can take to overcome it.

After successfully admitting you have a problem, it is time to make a plan for recovery.

Analyzing your Addiction

It is difficult and sometimes emotionally painful to recognize how your addiction is harming you, but seeing it on paper is one way you can resolve to fix the problem.

You can start by creating a list of the adverse effects of your addiction.

  • Think about how your addiction has hurt you physically and emotionally.
  • Write down how it has affected your relationships or caused financial hardships.
  • What are the daily annoyances of your addiction?

These are all good questions to ask and answer.

Next, you will want to make a list of everything you want to change for the better in your life. Think about the freedom you will have once you kick your addiction. Create a picture in your mind of what post-addiction life looks like.

What do you have more time for? Who are you spending your time with now? Are there any physical benefits? Or how do you expect to feel after you’ve kicked your habit? Will you be proud of yourself?

Finally, make a written commitment to quit. No one can make you quit. You have to want to quit for it to be successful. This means you need to set a solid date as to when you want to quit, and you will want to record why you want to quit.

Making a written commitment to yourself to quit can be the best gift you ever give yourself. 

After you’ve committed to quitting here are some things you can do to ensure success:

  • Seek out personal support by enlisting the help of your friends, family, and significant other. The more people you open up to about your commitment to quit, the more likely you are to be successful. Also, having a solid support system is essential for those bad days that you may experience.
  • Get professional help by seeing a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist to address why you got addicted in the first place. Working with a trained professional is important because they will be able to give you medical advice and make recommendations on what you should be doing to heal.
  • Identify your triggers to get a better idea of what you need to avoid or be aware of so that you can resist the temptation of falling back into old habits.
  • Fill your time with activities so that the day can go by quickly. Being busy will keep your mind off of your addiction problem and will give you a chance to find other activities to fill your time with that could be just as rewarding.
  • Relapse is a part of recovery means one slip up does not define your recovery. If you relapse it is important to acknowledge it, but don’t let it ruin you. Just because you slip up doesn’t mean you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Learn from your mistakes and you can go back to your sobriety that very day by not indulging your addiction any more than you already have during a lapse of judgment.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments 

When it comes to beating an addiction problem, it is essential to take notice of things that go well. Celebrate your accomplishments.

Tracking your successes in sobriety is crucial because it decreases the chance of relapsing.

Some find that counting the number of days they’ve stayed sober to be rewarding.

Noting benchmarks in recovery such as the first week, month, 60 days, 90 days & year is important because it proves you’ve can resist the temptation for so many days and can maintain sobriety for another day.

Sobriety is something worth cheering for, and it is something you can do right now to grow and healthily better yourself.


Addiction is something we need to understand and be able to identify.

Serious addiction is dangerous to the addict and the family and friends.  Immediate action is recommended for the safety and security of the addict and all other affected parties.

If you suspect that a friend, or a loved one has addiction problems, or if you think that you might have a problem, then you can get in touch with the Hotline at a trusted Recovery Center and discuss the problem and possible solutions.

The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment.  Call anytime.

Chateau Recovery Center
375 Rainbow Lane

Midway, UT 84049, USA
Phone: +1 435-654-1082

Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program.

If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.


This video is a brilliant presentation on the subject of Addiction. A great insight into really understanding addiction, identifying it, and taking action to help suffering addicts.  Watch this!

Seeing Drug and Alcohol Addiction in a New Light | Ed Stevenson

We need to stop blaming addicts and start treating them. Right now, our treatment options are severely limited and often misguided. In this talk, Ed Stevenson passionately describes why we desperately need more treatment centers and better treatment options if we are to help our friends and family who struggle with addictions.



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