How Addiction Is Changing 

Addiction is a broad category that includes not only substance abuse, but also sexual and gambling addiction. It includes behaviors that are compulsive and that may be detrimental to one’s health, quality of life or both.

Whether addicted to a substance or a behavior, addiction can result in loneliness and financial ruin. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that nearly one in 10 people suffer from addiction to a substance. With such high numbers, it’s likely that most people know someone who’s struggling.

Given the significant increase in the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, it’s not surprising that the demographics of addiction is changing. Drug addicts are no long shady characters relegated to dark alleys, but instead may be well-established, middle-class and middle-aged individuals who began taking prescription painkillers for a legitimate pain problem. Yet addiction can carry a stigma that keeps loved ones from seeing that the individual has a problem and keeps the individual from seeking the treatment they need.

Defining Addiction and Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) calls addiction a brain disease and notes that one of the characteristic symptoms is a compulsive drive to seek out drugs, no matter the consequences. With addiction, the brain undergoes changes that can be chronic and may lead to self-destructive behaviors.

While the NIDA writes its definition specifically for drug abuse, other types of behaviors could be substituted into their wording. Addiction is centered on compulsion, no matter the cost. And whatever the addiction is, those struggling with addiction often spiral deep into the clutch of the disease regardless of the consequences.

Are You Addicted?

For those who believe that they may have an addiction but aren’t certain, here are some questions to ask:

  • Has the problem behavior has increased over time?
  • Are there symptoms of withdrawal when ceasing the substance?
  • Does the individual feel compelled to lie about the behavior or its frequency?

If an addiction has developed, contact a medical professional. Talking with a doctor about an addiction can help the individual get connected with the appropriate treatment option.

Getting Help for Addiction

Both residential and outpatient programs are options for treatment. Residential addiction treatment programs can offer a high level of support, while outpatient programs can be done while the patient stays at home. Each patient is different and must evaluate the treatment option that is right for them.

Sufferers of all types of addiction may benefit from participation in a support group. These groups offer not only the benefit of therapeutic techniques, but also provide accountability and encouragement from other members of the group.

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