Addiction: A Broken Love Story

Last Edited: December 4, 2020
Patricia Howard, LMFT, CADC
Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a mental illness that can happen to anyone, at any stage of life. An addiction occurs when someone begins using a substance more than is needed and cannot stop using the substance no matter how hard he or she tries, becoming dependent on the it.

When someone has developed an addiction to a substance, it will eventually wreak havoc in other areas of his or her life; finances, relationships and health become serious risks an he or she faces.

Many experts define addiction as a mental illness. Compulsive behavior can rewire an addict’s brain, forcing the addicted person to place the substance over other priorities losing complete control. The effects of addiction depend on the type of substance the addicted person is abusing.

Typically, an addiction to a substance doesn’t happen overnight. Many users simply experiment with drugs or alcohol over a significant amount of time. Soon enough, their body will build up a tolerance. To feel the same effects they once felt, users will begin to take higher dosages and consume the substance more often. Eventually, the addiction will take over all other areas of life, causing those suffering from an addiction to act out, become irritable and go through withdrawal symptoms if they try ever try to stop.

Addiction is a serious disease. If you or someone you know is going through an addiction, know that you are not alone. We can help. Learn how to stage an intervention and find the appropriate rehabilitation facility and treatment for the type of addiction you’re going through.

The Addicted Brain

The Addicted Brain infographic

Drugs and Alcohol have the power to rewire one’s brain into thinking that person must consume their favorite substance, making him or her feel sick and trapped without it. Rehab, prison or death are the only three options one has to break out of that trap. If you are ready to enter rehab, then please call us now. We have people by the phone who can help you get started.

Is addiction a Brain disease?

If you struggle with an addiction, you may ask yourself how you got there. You may feel as though something is wrong with you or you are a bad person. The truth of the matter is that addiction doesn’t discriminate. It will come after anybody. Read More

What part of the brain controls addiction?

Drugs impact the brain’s reward system through dopamine. The brain feels like it’s rewarded whenever someone does drugs. However, it’s a synthetic, false reward. Read More

What Causes Addiction?

Addiction is caused by a myriad of factors. Most importantly, however, addiction isn’t something that happens to bad people who want to hurt others. However, a combination of genetics, trauma and environment can combine to make addiction possible. Read More

How to break free from the cycle?

Dopamine and Addiction: Dopamine is stimulated by drug use. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in creating feelings of pleasure that our brains generally relate to eating and sex. Read More

Commonly Abused Substances

Recognizing The Signs of Addiction

Addiction severely alters your brain’s chemistry. Once you become addicted, the people around you can usually determine a very clear change in behavior, attitude, and actions. One of the first noticeable differences friends and family may notice is a loss of control. When you become addicted to a substance, you won’t be able to control other areas of your life. In fact, all your thoughts are focused on when, where and how your next hit will arrive. Loved one’s may notice that you fail to continue engaging in hobbies you once loved. Soon enough, your only priority in life will be the substance.

Recognizing The Signs of Addiction infographic

Some drugs show different signs of addiction. However, the most common signs that your friends and family may notice include:

  • Altered sleeping patterns
  • Change in behavior
  • Change in eating habits
  • Denial
  • Financial difficulties
  • Hallucinations or other mental effects
  • Health issues
  • Isolation
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Missing work, school, or other important engagements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Relationship issues
  • Taking dangerous risks
  • Trouble with the law
  • Withdrawal symptoms, including a bad temper, violence, poor focus, depression, and severe cravings

Finally, your close friends and family are likely to catch you in many lies as you try to hide your addiction, eventually leading to even more issues. If loved ones try to reach out to get you help, you may feel like you’re being attacked, continuing to isolate yourself to hide your addiction, costing you to lose some of your closest relationships.

Rehab Treatment Options

What to Do for a Loved One Suffering from Addiction

If you know someone who is suffering from addiction, it’s important that you fully understand what he or she is going through. An addiction can completely change a person’s behavior, turning them into someone you may not even recognize. This is because the drugs will alter your loved one both physically and mentally. To get your loved one the help that they need, take part in the following actions.

Primarily, if you know someone suffering from addiction, learn about the symptoms you can expect as he or she continue to use. That way, you can be aware of the behavioral and physical changes that the drug is causing. Then, study the specific withdrawal effects that your loved one may go through when they stop using the substance for a specific length of time. Symptoms like dizziness, nausea, vomiting and shaking are common. Depending on the drug, your loved one may also have a lowered heartbeat, slip into a coma and even die if they don’t have the drug in their system.

Finally, research the various rehabilitation facilities available. There are countless options to help them get control back of their life, including local outpatient treatment centers, inpatient facilities, and even rehabilitation areas they can travel to. If you help lay the groundwork and show your loved one their options, they can take the next step to get the help they need. You may be the only hope your loved one has for support.

Addiction affects all communities

Making the decision to find a detox center or drug or alcohol rehab is the first step toward a new, healthy life. We’re here to help you get all the answers to your questions, and help rehab work for you.

Understanding Addiction: It doesn’t Discriminate

How Addiction Changes Your Brain

Drugs are chemicals that can permanently alter your brain. In fact, the chemicals in drugs will affect important parts of the brain that are responsible for life-sustaining functions. Along with being the organ responsible for making you feel all the addictive qualities, your addiction can affect the following areas of your brain:

  • The brain stem. This can alter your heart rate and breathing patterns. Depending on the drug you take, it either slows down or speeds up these processes, putting you at risk for severe effects, coma or death. This area is also responsible for your sleeping patterns, which will become irregular over time.
  • The cerebral cortex. This part of your brain is responsible for processing information from our five senses. The cerebral cortex is also considered the thinking center of the brain. It powers our ability to think, solve problems and make appropriate decisions. Drugs can severely damage this section of the brain, causing you to act irrationally and make decisions based on where and how you’re going to get your next hit.
  • The limbic system. This part of your brain controls and regulates your ability to feel pleasure. Your limbic system is altered as you build up a tolerance and become addicted to any type of drug. It also changes your perception of emotions, causing you to act out, act aggressively or violently, or even cause severe mood swings.

If you use drugs for long periods of time, you run the risk of causing permanent brain damage. Your ability to experience any type of pleasure will be exponentially reduced, causing you to have mood swings and long bouts of irritability or aggression. Eventually, you will feel depressed, lifeless, and unable to enjoy things you used to love. This can lead you to use even more to forget these depressive feelings, causing a seemingly never-ending cycle.

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Underlying Issues of Addiction

The cause of addiction varies on a case by case basis. Typically, addiction isn’t caused by a singular event, but instead, several different factors play a part. Some underlying issues of addiction include:

  • Initial curiosity. Sometimes, all it takes is a curiosity to feel the effects of a certain type of drug. Once you continue to use it, you won’t want to stop.
  • After time, you may want to stop taking drugs, only to realize that your body is now dependent on them. If you stop using, you’ll feel the effects of withdrawal. These range from moderate effects like nausea or vomiting to severe effects, sometimes including coma or death. To avoid these symptoms, as well as the stressors they’ve caused in other areas of their life, users will continue to stay dependent on the drug.
  • Mental illness. Pre-existing mental health disorders are common among addicts. To help them overcome symptoms of their mental illness, addicts generally turn to taking drugs. As they build up a tolerance, these users begin to use drugs increasingly more often.
  • An addiction can also form after a person has been given a prescription. Many times, these prescriptions are given to control pain after a severe injury or extreme surgery. Unfortunately, pain killers are highly addictive, leading to an addiction before the user even realizes it.
  • Comorbid conditions. This means that users have two or more disorders existing at the same time. This can include illnesses like anxiety disorders and depression. To help control the feelings that these conditions can cause, users often turn to drugs and quickly gain a dependency.

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It Can Happen to Anyone

Addressing Addiction to Alcohol

An alcohol addiction is one of the most common types of addiction across the country. Since it is legal, easily accessible and lowers anxiety, more people quickly turn to it to forget about their problems. Oftentimes, this addiction occurs as a social phenomenon. In other words, abusers begin to drink in social situations and talk to others in a relaxed, happy manner. Soon enough, a user will drink copious amounts of alcohol alone to feel its mind-numbing effects.

It’s important to note that not everyone who drinks is addicted to alcohol. It only becomes an addiction once the user can’t control how much  or how often he or she drinks or the cravings that are felt if one goes without drinking for marked periods of time.

Alcohol slows down your mental and bodily processes as it affects your central nervous system. Although dangerous on its own, alcohol becomes even more lethal once mixed with other drugs. It can cause slurred speech, muscle spasms, blackout periods, vomiting, coma and death.

Many alcohol abusers don’t even realize there is a problem until it has already seeped into other areas of life. Alcohol abusers may continue to use for years without thinking that they need to find help or seek treatment. If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol, call a treatment center today. Professionals who can provide you the support and therapy you need to take back control of your life. Learn More

Addiction to Prescription Drugs

An addiction to prescription drugs is surprisingly common. All it takes is one visit to the doctor or one quick sell on the street to get ahold of the substances. The most common types of abused prescriptions include:

  • Opioids meant to treat pain
  • Central nervous system depressants like sedatives, hypnotics and tranquilizers that are used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders
  • Stimulants that are commonly used to treat disorders like ADD or narcolepsy

Typically, this type of addiction begins by taking the regular dosage as prescribed by a doctor. As your body builds up a tolerance to the prescription, you may find yourself taking a higher dosage more often than necessary to feel the same effects. After time, you’ll find yourself being unable to stop taking your drugs. Lying to your doctors and exaggerating your pain to get more refills becomes common.

Eventually, your lies will flow into your everyday life. You’ll begin to isolate yourself to hide your addiction from others, causing harm to some of your closest relationships. You may even lie to your workplace to stay home and use. Soon enough, your job may terminate your position because of your addiction, leading you to have increased financial trouble. As you spend increasingly more money on your prescription pills, you may be late on important payments, causing your company to shut off your phone, electricity, or even forcing your bank to take over your home and kick you out on the streets.

An addiction to prescription pills can be completely damaging to your life. While the risks you face depend on the type of prescription you’re abusing, they all have the potential to kill you. If you or someone you know is showing signs of prescription drug addiction, seek help immediately. The sooner you can seek treatment, the more likely you’ll be able to get back control of your life. Learn More