Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

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Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease
why we need to treat addiction as a disease

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

Introduction

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease. What does addiction feel like? How do we recognize it? How can we help addicts get better? And how do you know when an addiction has become an illness?

It is not always easy to tell, but there are some key differences between the compulsive behavior of someone with an addiction and that of a healthy person, especially in terms of physical and mental health, social life, and financial situation.

What Is Addiction?

The effects of drugs can lead to physical and mental cravings that, if left unchecked, will make it increasingly difficult for an individual to find contentment.

Addicts may even lose their ability to experience pleasure, leaving them with little motivation in life aside from feeding their addiction.

Addicts will most likely develop a substance tolerance over time, they will need more of whatever drug they are abusing each time they use it just to achieve their desired effect.

Finally, people with addictive personalities tend toward recklessness in other aspects of life too, when faced with adversity.

People addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely than others are simply give up and relapse.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

Studies Show an Addictive Brain is Different

The high experienced by someone with an addiction is different from that experienced by non-addicts.

Long after quitting drinking, for example, heavy drinkers who have gone through detox still react differently in their brains when shown pictures of alcohol than do people who do not struggle with addiction.

When alcoholics see images of drinks, it triggers activity in their brain reward system similar to what occurs when they take drugs like cocaine or heroin, these changes make them feel compelled to drink and keep drinking despite knowing that doing so will damage their health.

Also important is understanding how medications work and why they work differently on different people.

 Although there are currently no medications specifically approved for treating all forms of addiction, treatment can be highly effective when tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease
why we need to treat addiction as a disease

Where Does the Disease in Drug Abuse Come From?

One of three things will happen if you do drugs every day, you will develop tolerance, which means that you will need more and more of something to feel any effect.

You will become dependent on it, so that when you stop using it, your body starts reacting negatively or if you use highly addictive substances, like heroin or crystal meth, one dose will cause changes in your brain chemistry meaning those changes are lasting and irreversible.

At that point, addiction is considered an illness. The science of drug abuse has shown us over and over again that what was once thought of as moral failure is now a chronic disease we can treat with medication.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

When Can Recovery Begin?

It is not always easy for people with an addiction to figure out when they are ready for recovery.

One way some experts recommend gauging your readiness is by examining your relationships and how they might be impacted if you became sober.

If your family or friends are going through problems because of your addiction, it might be time to seek help.

The same goes for any problems that have arisen at work or school because of substance abuse, it might be wise to address them before they become bigger issues.

How Do I Get Treatment?

If you or someone you know has an addiction, chances are you have looked into treatment.

But there are so many options from inpatient treatment centers to outpatient therapy programs, AA (alcohol anonymous) meetings and more.

It can be difficult to sort through what works and what doesn’t.

The best place to start is by talking with your doctor about getting medically detoxed (in most cases) and then figuring out where you go from there.

Ask lots of questions, find treatment providers that specialize in addiction recovery, talk about family involvement and make sure insurance will cover your treatment needs if applicable.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treating an addiction but research shows that involving family members improves outcomes.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

What Are Effective Recovery Methods?

There are numerous recovery methods, but not all of them are effective.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, knowing what works and what doesn’t is crucial.

What works for one person may not work for another, so it is important to approach treatment on an individual basis.

Most people begin with detox; depending on your situation, you might spend anywhere from a few days to several weeks in detox before beginning rehab.

While there is not one clear path that leads from addiction to recovery, some common methods include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapy and group support meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

It can take time and sometimes more than one attempt to find the best fit for your unique needs and preferences.

Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease
Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease

How Long Will Recovery Take?

You may have noticed an uptick in substance abuse coverage in your local or national news.

The headlines are not wrong.  United States is currently in midst of an addiction crisis.

Drug overdose is now one of leading causes of death, with more than 64,000 deaths due to overdose occurring in 2016 alone.

Many people assume that those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will be able to overcome their addiction on their own.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

How Long Should I Stay in Treatment?

The length of your recovery journey will depend on multiple factors.

If you need intensive outpatient or inpatient care, it is going to take longer than if you are able to access long-term support through AA meetings and outpatient treatment.

Everyone recovers at their own pace, so there is not a set amount of time that everyone needs for recovery.

However, there are some general guidelines for how long each level of care should last.

Inpatient treatment can range from 30 days up to one year, with some facilities offering extended care beyond one year if needed.

Intensive outpatient programs can last anywhere from three months up to six months (or longer), depending on how often you attend sessions.

What Can Families Do if They Have Loved Ones with Addictions?

Even if you can’t get your loved one into treatment, there are steps you can take.

You should try to gather information on available resources, such as intervention services and recovery programs.

It is also important that you encourage your loved one to seek help at some point.

Talking about how addiction has affected his or her life is an important first step in recovery for many people.

And remember, it is not your fault that he or she has struggled with addiction.

Don’t blame yourself for what happened or what continues to happen to your loved one, realize that it is just a disease they have, and they need support from their friends and family while they work toward overcoming it.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

What Happens if I Don’t Get Help?

If you are struggling with an addiction, it might be hard to see how getting help could possibly improve your life.

You may think that seeking treatment will mean admitting defeat, or you may think that rehab is simply unaffordable.

Unfortunately, if you wait too long and don’t get help, there are severe consequences.

If you continue to engage in addictive behaviors (like gambling, drinking or smoking), it can cause permanent brain damage and physical harm.

If you are able to kick your habit without professional support good for you.

But don’t underestimate just how powerful addiction is. Take care of yourself after kicking your habit so that you can avoid slipping back into unhealthy behaviors later on down the road.

Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease
Why We Need to Treat Addiction as a Disease

Conclusion

The entire world is facing an addiction crisis. Between illicit drugs, prescription medication, and alcohol, nearly 20 million Americans are addicted to something, with approximately 1 in every 11 adults being an alcoholic.

The causes of addiction vary greatly from brain chemistry and family history to socioeconomic factors but no matter what someone’s personal story may be, science has shown that addiction is treatable.

Why we need to treat addiction as a disease

In fact, studies have shown that treatment rates can increase from 40% for those who believe they don’t need help (those most at risk for relapse) up to 80% for those who actively seek out help and consider themselves addicts.

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