Many of us are struggling with or know someone who is struggling with addiction. What most people don’t understand is the true nature of addiction, how people become addicted and how it affects those individuals. Some of you may have heard that addiction is a disease, however explaining why and how addiction is a disease can be difficult.
At Living Now Recovery we want to give our clients the information and tools they need to get on the path to sobriety. This includes understanding how addiction is a disease, what that means for a person with addiction and how to get them the help they need to begin living a clean and sober life again, free of drugs or alcohol.
What Is Addiction?
First, we need to understand what addiction is in order to explain it best. Addiction is a chronic disease in which an individual suffers from compulsive drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences.
This can come in the form of prescription drug use, illicit drug use, or alcohol consumption. Generally, when a person becomes addicted they will prioritize using the drug over most other things in life such as family responsibilities, work, or established social circles.
How People Become Addicted
It’s important to know that people are not “born addicts.” It takes time for them to go down the long road of addiction before they end up suffering from it. So how do people become addicted?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that genetics can play a role in who becomes addicted but so does the environment: those with close ties or family members who have been alcoholics may be more at risk than others. For example, children of alcoholic parents are six times as likely to develop alcoholism themselves eventually – although this doesn’t mean every child will necessarily do so.
What this means is that addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that starts with experimentation or use and eventually leads to abuse, dependence, and then addiction. But how does someone go from experimenting to full-blown addict?
How Is Addiction a Disease?
While environmental factors do play a role in whether or not someone becomes addicted, just like any other disease it may also affect those without a family history of addiction or a predisposition to becoming addicted.
This is because drugs and alcohol also play an active role in the person becoming addicted by the way they impact a person’s body and mind. For example, drugs and alcohol can both increase dopamine production which is the brain’s “feel good” chemical. When a person drinks or takes drugs, it floods their system with dopamine causing them to feel pleasure and happiness when they’re under its influence. But once that high wears off, so does any sense of well-being or emotional satisfaction from normal life experiences like being around friends and family.
This experience leads the person towards more drug use in order to achieve those feelings again – only this time with even greater intensity than before because tolerance has set in for substances abused over an extended period of time. The cycle then continues until there are serious consequences stemming from addiction including loss of relationships, jobs, children/pets/home etc., not to mention health problems and potentially even death.
How to Explain Addiction Is a Disease
The best way to explain that addiction is a disease is to understand that much like other diseases, it stays with you for life. The struggle to stay sober is an ongoing battle that people in recovery deal with every day.
Past experiences, family history, and other factors all contribute to whether a person may become addicted and can easily lead them to become addicted again in the future despite being in recovery. At Living Now Recovery we believe in providing sober living options to all our clients that gives them a place to get their life on track and provides valuable help and services like mentoring and counseling while holding them accountable for staying sober.
If you or a loved one are dealing with addiction, contact Living Now Recovery today.