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Understanding Drug Addiction

 / Addiction Information / Understanding Addiction

What is Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

Addiction to alcohol or other substances is widely misunderstood and stigmatized. This problem is affecting millions of Americans, spouses, and communities. Drug usage is increasing in our country, and 23.5 million Americans are hooked on alcohol and drugs. That’s almost one in every ten Americans over 12 – roughly equivalent to the whole population of Texas.

Addiction has been called "a sickness of the mind, body, and soul." Because addiction combines physical, mental, and emotional healing, it entails a physical and psychological urge or drives to use mood-altering drugs.

Most of us do not understand that drug and alcohol addiction is chronic. While the addict may have chosen to take drugs initially out of their free will, the substances alter the brain and cause compulsive usage.


Addiction is not just a societal issue but also a medical condition. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says individuals start using drugs for several reasons, including:


  • To feel excellent — “high,” "pleasure," or “intoxicated.”

  • To relax, forget, or numb.

  • To enhance one's performance or thoughts.

  • Experimentation or peer pressure.

Understanding an addiction entails understanding how drugs interact with the brain.

The Brain and Addiction

Your brain is structured to make you desire to repeat happy moments. Consequently, you keep doing them for pleasure motives. Addictive medications attack your brain's reward system. They fill the brain with dopamine, a pleasure-causing chemical. This causes massive pleasure, and you keep taking it to get high.


The brain adapts to the increased dopamine. So, you may need more of the substance to obtain the same high. Other pleasures, like eating and family time, may diminish as drugs take center stage in your life.


Long-term drug use may alter other brain chemical processes. They can harm:

  • Memory 

  • Judgment

  • Learnability 

  • Decision-making

These alterations in the brain might cause you to seek out and use drugs in ways you can't stop.

Medically Reviewed:


Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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What is drug addiction
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understanding addiction

Understanding Addiction

Detecting a SUD (substance use disorder) might be difficult. Some indicators of addiction are easy to see, while others are not. Many individuals with a substance use problem attempt to conceal it from relatives and friends, making it difficult to detect their struggles.


Notwithstanding your age, culture, or socioeconomic background, you might develop addictive behavior habits. While most of us usually connect addiction with gambling, medications (illicit and prescription), liquor, and tobacco, addiction may be to anything, including:


  • Work: Workaholics are so consumed by their jobs that they become physically exhausted. Workaholics struggle with marriages, family, and community interactions and never take vacations.


  • Computers: A rise in computer use has led to increased internet addiction. People may overlook other elements of their life while browsing the internet or playing computer games.


  • Solvents: Inhaling glue, aerosol, paints, or lighter gas to get high is a form of volatile substance misuse. Unfortunately, solvent abuse can be lethal.


  • Shopping: When you shop for pleasure, you purchase stuff you do not need or desire. Then comes remorse, humiliation, or despair.

Addiction's 4 Stage

addictions 4 stages
  • Will insurance cover drug and alcohol rehab?
    Private insurance is the most common and effective payment method for addiction treatment. It can pay for a significant number, if not all, of your rehabilitation appointments. Thanks to the efforts by private lobbyists and the government, rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction is now a mandatory benefit under insurance after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • Paying for addiction treatment
    Ways to Pay for Addiction Treatment Here are the five points for financing that might be helpful for your treatment: ​ 1. Insurance 2. Self-Pay or Payment plan 3. Loan or second mortgage 4. Funding or Scholarships 5. Family Insurance ​ If a person has some benefits, they can use them for treatment and take advantage of insurance. If you use health insurance providers so that you can recover yourself from addiction because they collect payment regularly or they have scheduled their income as well. Self-Pay ​ The second method is self-pay, and in this method, you can pay for treatment in lump sums or months and create a payment plan so that you can pay weekly, monthly, or whatever you choose the way to treat. Loan ​ The third method to pay is a loan. You can take a loan or a second mortgage from those homeowners. Funding or Scholarships ​ If you do some research, then you can find a lot of funding or scholarships for you that are available to you there. Family The last method to pay is family. Your family can help you financially with your treatment. There are many options available for you as a key for financial assistance so that you can choose one of these methods for addiction treatment.
  • Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?
    Employees who get treatment for addiction while still at work are protected by the ADA and other laws like the MHPAEA, the ACA, and the Family Medical Leave Act, which all work together to make them eligible to return to work after the treatment.
  • How much does addiction treatment cost?
    Depending on your needs, treatment options for addiction vary from extensive medical detox to inpatient (or residential) care plans to less intensive outpatient ones. If your addiction is chronic or you are also grappling with a dual diagnosis, then long-term care at a residential facility is often the best option; but it is more costly. It's even more expensive when your situation necessitates the consultation of many specialists and the administration of costly drugs.
  • When is it time to go to rehab?
    Many believe that a person does not need to go to rehab, even if they struggle with the most severe addiction withdrawal symptoms. Still, studies show that last year almost 100,000 people died in the United States due to substance use disorder or overdoses. As 22 million people are suffering from addiction to either drugs or alcohol, there is a need to talk about this subject more casually. Many people don’t go to rehab because they feel ashamed of being addicted. There is a need to make them realize that no one can judge them if they see any symptoms; they should decide to visit a rehab as soon as possible.
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Addiction does not occur overnight, despite what the addict perceives. Most addiction experts believe that there are four primary phases to it: 


  • Experimentation

  • Regular use

  • High-risk use

  • Addiction or dependency


Not everybody in the early two phases will become addicted, but those in stage 3 are likely to become full-blown abusers.


Understanding these phases is crucial to spotting a problem and getting assistance before it becomes an addiction.

Do you have a addiction

Do You Have An Addiction?

It's not always easy to tell whether you have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Admitting it is difficult, owing to the stigma and humiliation associated with drug use disorders. However, acknowledging a crisis is the first and most crucial step toward recovery.

So, how do you know if you're addicted? One or more of the following warning indicators may apply to you:


  • An impulse to take the substance daily, sometimes many times each day.

  • Taking more (prescription) medications than you intended to and over a more extended period than anticipated.

  • Having the addictive substance with you at all times and purchasing it even if you cannot afford it.

  • Using an addictive substance, even if there is the danger that it may make you lose your job or lead you to lash out at your family members and friends.

  • You are increasing the amount of time you spend alone.

  • Not worrying about how you appear or not taking care of yourself.

  • It is stealing, deceiving, or engaging in risky behavior, such as driving while intoxicated or engaging in unsafe sex.

  • Spending the majority of your time obtaining, using, or recuperating from the drug's effects

  • When you attempt to stop, you become ill.

The Diagnosis and Treatment of Addiction

Diagnosis and treatment of addiction

The best part is that drug use disorders can be treated in both a successful and safe way. In treating drug abuse problems, both medicine and counseling have shown to be quite effective.


Treatment not only aids in managing addiction-inducing compulsive behavior but also helps reduce the likelihood of relapse in the future. Get in touch with us for addiction treatment. It is also never too late to get help—individual care plans are made for each person, ensuring your specific requirements are satisfied.


Addiction treatment may comprise a mix of the following: 



It is essential to consult your health care professionals before beginning any therapy to ensure that you or a loved one receives the best care possible. Treatment options differ based on the illness. Some of the most prevalent care and rehabilitation options are listed below.


Inpatient/Detox Treatment

Individuals physically addicted to drugs or alcohol might benefit from this short-term rehab.


Someone detoxing from alcohol, benzos, cocaine, or barbiturates may need medical detox since withdrawal symptoms could be lethal without medical care. While undergoing a medical detox, patients are monitored by medical personnel to guarantee a safe and pleasant withdrawal.

Residential (Inpatient) Treatment

A stay at a treatment facility is required for this sort of therapy. This treatment form may benefit people who want to stay in an organized, drug-free atmosphere devoid of temptations or drug triggers.

Partial Hospitalization and Outpatient Treatment


Outpatient and partial hospitalization (day) programs have less structure since patients do not live at the facility. Patients return home after each day of treatment and spend the night there.

Mutual Assistance Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA), SMART Recovery, and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are just a few of the fellowship groups that meet in a welcoming and accepting environment. Most are available to the public, and membership is entirely free.

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There is hope

There Is Hope—Recovery Is Possible!

In addition to medically approved drugs and treatment, complete recovery requires re-establishing a productive life. This process may be slow and complex as you restore family and social contacts and begin to broaden your position in your society. Unfortunately, people experiencing homelessness, financial insecurity, low social support, or illiteracy may find the journey arduous.


Fortunately, rehabilitation often includes learning to pursue new hobbies and giving your life significance. Recognizing that your issues are generally transient might help you recover from addictive behavior.

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