Why I relapsed used to be a mystery to me. I felt like I was on autopilot the whole walk home. I don’t remember any of the thoughts going through my head, just that I had this strong internal force that seemed to have completely taken over my body. I got in the door, kicked my shoes off and threw my jacket onto the floor. I brought my bag with me onto the couch, pulled the bottle out of the bag and without hesitation cracked the cap and took a long swallow. Reality suddenly came rushing … [Read more...]
What is Addiction?
Addiction has become a term that is used casually in many conversations. For example, people will often claim to be addicted to a favorite television show or eating at a great restaurant. Turning this word into a descriptive term minimizes the severity of actually struggling to deal with this condition, because there is nothing enjoyable or redeemable to be found within the suffering of this illness.
Living with this problem in dealing with alcohol or drug consumption is like living inside of a prison cell with no visible walls. While many people engage in the casual use of these substances, a large amount of these recreational users will go on to develop a full-blown problem with dependency and addictive behaviors. Unfortunately, treating this affliction is just not as simple as ceasing to drink or use drugs.
What Defines Addiction?
Over 80 percent of adults aged 18 years or older have used alcohol at some point in their lives. Additionally, about 50 percent of adults have used illicit street drugs.
Out these large segments of the population in the United States who use drugs or alcohol, about 23 million of these individuals become addicted. What separates a casual user from a substance abuser, and what separates them from a full-blown drug addict?
A casual user is someone who partakes of their drug of choice on occasion, primarily to intensify certain experiences. This person doesn't actively seek drugs and is able to say no to using if the situation doesn't fit their criteria for a good time. A casual user doesn't shirk financial obligations, harm relationships or let their drug use impact their performance on the job.
Substance abuse is a term that is often mistakenly used to describe a person who is addicted. Substance abuse is a serious problem, but differs in many ways from the behavior of an individual who is an addict. A substance abuser's life is not generally extremely disrupted by their drug or alcohol use, although they still will experience health and interpersonal problems due to their behaviors. A person with a substance abuse problem will use their drug of choice to numb themselves and cope with the stresses of everyday life, yet they are still at a point in their habits where they do have a modicum of control over their consumption. However, people who abuse drugs or alcohol in lieu of developing healthier coping mechanisms are indeed at a heightened risk for becoming an addict.
Addiction is a chronic disease that does not get better without treatment. Unlike casual users or abusers of drugs and alcohol, an addict's life is completely consumed by their illness. In addition to experiencing the health problems associated with out of control drug or alcohol consumption, addicts allow the drug to rule their lives. Friends, family, professional obligations and financial stability are all sacrificed in order for the addict to access their drug of choice. Being addicted means that a person is out of control, that they are unable to stop using without help and that their life is completely consumed by the tasks of procuring drugs and using them in order to stay high as often as possible.
Addiction - The Illness With Many Faces
This condition knows no address or income level, and people of all ages, genders, religions and cultural backgrounds can all be affected. It may grow slowly after a period of prolonged substance abuse, or it can happen very quickly after an individual experiments with a highly addictive substance, such as heroin or other opioid drugs.
Annually, nearly 17 million people in the United States are addicted to or abuse alcohol. Since alcohol is legal and easily purchased nearly everywhere, alcoholism is one of the most commonly experienced addictions in the country.
People who are addicted to alcohol are at an increased risk for being involved in fatal car crashes, developing liver problems, experiencing cardiovascular problems and for developing certain cancers.
Opiate drugs, such as heroin, methadone, Oxycontin and Vicodin, are some of the most deadly and highly addictive substances on the face of the planet. With an approximate estimation showing that about 2.5 million people are struggling and addicted to opiates in America, this is one of the fastest growing epidemics ever witnessed in drug abuse history.
People who are addicted to opiates develop a tolerance, requiring increasing amounts of drugs to get high. This places opiate addicts at a very high risk of death from overdose. Other risks of opiate use include an increased likelihood of developing blood-borne infections, a weakened immune system and cardiovascular issues.
Stimulants, such as cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription medications such as Adderall or Dexedrine, are another class of highly addictive drugs. Due to the easy accessibility of the prescription drugs mentioned earlier that are used to treat conditions like ADD or ADHD, an increasing number of American youths are becoming addicted to stimulants. Since this class of drugs acts heavily in the pleasure centers of the brain and causes increased dopamine production, many users become addicted because their brain stops producing dopamine after heavy stimulant use.
People who are addicted to stimulants are at a greater risk for suffering heart attacks, strokes, dangerously increased body temperature, seizures, paranoia and psychosis.
Discovering Hope for Those Battling Addiction
Whether your friend or loved one is an addict, or if you are experiencing the devastating effects of this illness yourself, please realize that there is hope and future good health waiting to be discovered. With appropriate professional help, you or your loved one no longer has to be lost in the labyrinthine tangles of an addicted lifestyle.
Inpatient drug detox and rehab programs provide a safe, structured and drug-free environment in which addicts can begin to recover under the watchful eyes of a team of professionals. After the physical symptoms of detox have subsided, a person who struggles with addictive behaviors needs ongoing mental healthcare and social services in order to successfully learn how to live a life free from drugs and alcohol.
With a multitude of treatment options from which to choose, most people feel overwhelmed when faced with the process of selecting and enrolling in a treatment program. We're here to guide you through the process from beginning to end, and we also provide advice and guidance as to post-treatment care and support options.
Just like diabetes or high blood pressure, addicts face a chronic disease that must be treated by committed, experienced professionals. Finding the proper treatment facility can assist you or your loved one in becoming a sober person, ready to reclaim life and enjoy each day to its fullest.
It's time to make the nightmare of living every day as a drug or alcohol addict a thing of the past. Please, pick up the phone or start typing right now to contact us for help. Every day is a chance to become the person you want to be, and we're here to be your resource for all things related to recovery and sobriety.
A family is defined as a group of people affiliated either by consanguinity, affinity, co-residence, or a combination of the above. The Collegiate Recovery Community at Mississippi State University is a family. The entire town of Starkville is that way. Strangers will often happen upon the college town by mistake and wake up ten years later to find themselves still here – and that’s because of the community that resides in Starkville. It is a rare occasion to go across town from one side to the … [Read more...]
During my first year of recovery, I buried my nose in whatever literature my sponsor handed me. It was pretty basic. The Big Book and a 12-step Workbook. I did my best to navigate the old-timey writing, outdated sentiments, and religious aspect. I’m thankful that I was able to look past the things that didn’t resonate with me, or make sense to me so that I could get well. My first year of sobriety I worked steps like it was my full-time job and it absolutely saved my life! When I started … [Read more...]
I sat on my bed trying to focus my eyes on the pregnancy stick I was holding but it was just not happening. I was still drunk from the night before. I extended my arm and was now seeing double. Yep, I was pregnant. My boyfriend was still asleep so I decided to walk to the store and buy, ya know, 12 more pregnancy tests. I can vividly recall telling myself, “If I’m pregnant, of course, I’ll quit drinking and using! And it will be so easy because of…duh…the baby.” Turns out, I was wrong. The … [Read more...]
Prior to getting sober, I couldn’t imagine spending a Chicago summer without drugs and alcohol. Summer in Chicago is sweet solace after months of dodging ice falling from skyscrapers, wearing two layers of thermal leggings under your pants, and contemplating moving to the West Coast every other day. All of my summers here have revolved around drinking on the harbor; smoking on rooftops with my best friends; going to parties, shows, festivals -- all of which seemed to require some level of … [Read more...]