Looking back at 2021 reveals a difficult year for all of us, especially those who struggled with addiction during such challenging times. Over 10% of Americans aged 12 and older have used an illicit drug in the last year with even more suffering from alcohol use disorder.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, shows us the breakdown of substance abuse to offer a better understanding of how widespread the issue has become.
Common Questions About Addiction
Starting with “What is addiction?” we’ll break down addiction and what it means. Addiction is commonly referred to as substance use disorder or SUD. Diagnosing this condition is done by evaluating an individual’s relationship to a particular substance whether that be drugs or alcohol.
When an addiction forms, consumption of a substance becomes a compulsive behavior that’s difficult or even impossible to control. This occurs when someone turns to drugs or alcohol to achieve a positive feeling. The reward felt from substance abuse comes from both the substance and the individual’s desire to avoid other feelings such as stress or depression.
How Does Addiction Happen?
Unfortunately there are multiple factors that come into play when an addiction starts forming. Typically these factors fall under the environmental or genetic category with each one having it’s own set of impacts on the individual.
The environment one grows up and lives in has a substantial amount of influence on how they develop and handle what life has to throw at them. Trauma and abuse can lead to early substance use but even simply being around regular users of drugs or alcohol can normalize the practice.
Friends, coworkers and loved ones that an individual trusts and looks up to may sway that person’s opinion on substance use without knowing it, all just by consuming it around them. A stressful home or work life can lead to using substances as a method of stress relief, eventually forming a dependence on it.
When it comes to genetic factors in developing an addiction, there are some that can’t be directly treated such as a genetic predisposition to develop addictive tendencies. A predisposition like this is passed down from one or both of the parents.
Some groups are also more susceptible to periods of depression or anxiety which can lead to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Having a predisposition for these conditions can also make traumatic events more severe, another leading cause for someone to turn to substance use.
Can Addiction Happen From One Use?
When this question gets brought up, there’s no single answer that doesn’t properly address how addiction progresses. Simply put, no you won’t become addicted from a single drink or use of a drug. Addiction forms over time as the mind and body become more dependent on a particular substance.
The issue is that when someone drinks or uses a drug, they often have a positive experience while feeling better than they did while sober. Seeking this state of euphoria out over and over is how addiction begins due to ongoing substance abuse.
How Can I Tell if Someone Is Struggling With Addiction?
Substance abuse and addiction don’t always have obvious signs associated with them. There are different levels of severity with addiction with the impact it has growing over time. For some, they’ll begin a routine of drinking more often until it’s a daily task. As they drink more, they need more to feel inebriated and will begin drinking all the time.
Others may not be as open with their substance use when it involves drugs. Individuals suffering from drug addiction tend to isolate themselves or choose to only be around others using the same drug. Relationships begin to diminish as the individual opts to use drugs instead of attending to other responsibilities such as work or their family.
How Is Addiction Treated?
Addiction is a lifelong condition that has no one cure. Thankfully, proper addiction treatment from a professional recovery team can equip anyone with the tools and resources needed to achieve sobriety and live a substance free life.
Treatment centers are important for addiction recovery as there is a detox period where the individual stops drinking and using drugs. The body can go through withdrawal symptoms during this period as it learns how to function without the presence of an outside substance.
These symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to potentially fatal in some cases. Medically-assisted detox helps to alleviate these symptoms and provide individuals with a safe transition into treatment.
From there mental health professionals and addiction specialists work together to tackle the root causes of addiction. If you have any questions or concerns about addiction or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the ARC team today.