Addiction is an illness that can happen to anyone. Even if you don’t have a substance use disorder you will undoubtedly be affected by someone who does. You will work with, go to school with, or love someone who has an addiction. That’s why understanding the illness of addiction is critical, and it’s important to have an idea of what addicts are facing. That’s why we all must support those with addictions, and know that recovery is possible.
HOW CAN A PERSON BECOME ADDICTED TO A SUBSTANCE?
It’s true that many people can have a drink—or even a line of cocaine—at a party and not need another, but some people can’t. Because of genetic predisposition, environmental influences, or experiences of psychological stress (such as a trauma), some people simply won’t stop seeking more because they are numbing their feelings while looking for the pleasure that the drug provides. Addicts are typically unhappy with themselves and their own lives, even if they don’t realize it. Addiction tends to sneak up on the person. It’s not something the person was looking or asking for, and addicts tend to think they can stop if they want to…even when they can’t.
Part of the reason addicts have such a hard time quitting is because of changes in the brain that last long after a person stops using drugs. These changes can prevent a person from quitting in spite of harmful consequences, or can induce a relapse later on.
Any drug can become addictive given the right circumstances.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT AN ADDICT EXPERIENCE?
Research shows that many people with addictions also suffer from other mental illnesses like major depressive disorder or borderline personality disorder. This is known as “a dual diagnosis” or “co-existing conditions.” This means both the addiction and the other mental illness must be treated at the same time.
That said, it’s known that medically treating substance use disorders and other mental illnesses together can create a full recovery. Many people have succeeded and now live happy lives.
RECOVERY FROM DRUG ADDICTION
Recovery from a substance use disorder typically requires professional treatment, and many addicts don’t experience full recovery on the first attempt. Professional addiction treatment does work, however, and people become clean and sober every day.
A drug addict may go through difficult experiences that friends and family find devastating to watch, but everyone has the strength within to achieve recovery. There is hope no matter what the drug is, who the person is, or where he or she may be in life.