How Do We Define Alcohol or Drug Addiction?

How Do We Define Addiction?

Definitions are very important when it comes to a clear explanation and understanding, so knowing how the addiction is defined helps everyone to know just what we’re dealing with. Jef Gazely, a licensed therapist with multiple specialties, says “addiction is a really, really complicated issue, and I think it’s something that is very individualized.”

When Gazely says “individualized,” he means that each case of addiction is unique for every person. Factors such as the substance the addict is dependent on, family history with substance abuse, peer pressure, age, stress at work, stress at home, and many others can impact how an addiction works on that person. There is no denying that some drugs, like Cocaine and Heroin, have physically addictive chemicals in them that create a physical dependency. The above factors can indicate, however, how severe the dependency is as well as any psychological dependency that has ensued as a result of the habits formed.

What Falls Under “Addiction”

“The idea of doing anything to the point that it is excessive and damaging throws it into the addictive spectrum,” says Gazely. We all know the phrase “everything in moderation,” but can this be said about drugs like Cocaine? No, and the reason is because of those physically addictive chemicals present in illegal substances, but what Gazely is really getting at is that anything can be addictive, even without the addictive chemicals. The thing is, our bodies become dependent on anything that causes us pleasure or distracts us from the trials of life. These distractions can be an incredibly slippery slope down the path to self-destruction, and can turn damaging in the blink of an eye if these habits and patterns start becoming more of a crutch than a relief.

“Many people are overusing all kinds of things because they simply don’t know how to deal with their emotions.” Sadly, many of those who are addicted to a substance, whether illegal, prescription, or even alcohol, revert to it because they either don’t know how to express themselves or they use it to cope. They could be coping with a personal loss, or attempting to rebel, it could even be something as simple as stress: desiring to take the edge off after a long day or week of work. The problem with this approach, however, is how quickly habits form as a result of it. The mind turns it into a necessity because of habit, leaving the body to feel it cannot function without a hit, line, or drink, resulting in unpleasant side-effects.

So What Do We Do?

Overall, addiction is a very serious problem that requires expert help, which comes in multiple flavors. Physical addiction is treated with a process known as detox, which helps to clean out any and all harmful, and addictive, toxins in the body. While this phase does end the physical dependency, it does not address the psychological addiction formed by habitual use. In order to treat this, it is highly recommended to go through therapy in order to learn how to combat the urge to use again, otherwise “the plan isn’t complete and so you’ll have relapse, and then you have to go ahead and plug those holes,” as Gazely mentioned.

Knowing the underlying factors that led to addiction in the first place is incredibly important in understanding each individual case. The best way to learn these factors is to consult an expert, and gain insight into the life of an addict. Truly, the most important thing to remember is that it is never too late to get help, for yourself or for those you love.

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