People often think of addiction as a choice. It’s not. Addiction is a disease that can be treated and managed, but it’s still a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease. There are many types of addictions, including substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), behavioral (gambling) and process-related (eating disorders).
What is an addiction?
An addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted person.
The first step toward treating an addiction is for the individual to recognize that they have a problem. This can be difficult for people who are in denial or minimize their issues, but it’s important because recognizing the problem and acknowledging that changes must be made are essential steps toward starting recovery.
Once you’ve admitted you have a problem or disorder and want to seek treatment, it’s good to know how your specific substance dependence affects your body and what can happen if you don’t get help right away. For example:
- Alcohol abuse – Excessive drinking may cause physical problems like liver damage or malnutrition; mental health issues such as depression or paranoia; social problems like legal trouble; loss of interest in activities once enjoyed; alcohol-related accidents from drinking while driving or operating heavy machinery/equipment; injuries from falls/fights/other incidents related directly or indirectly due to being drunk at time of incident (e.g., tripping over something).
Addiction is a disease.
While there is no consensus among scientists about whether addiction should be considered a disease, those who do believe it to be so argue that this classification can help to clarify the nature of addiction and its effects on people.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is a primary, chronic brain disease that results from changes in the brain brought on by repeated drug use. The exact causes of these changes are not fully understood, but current research suggests that genetics and environmental factors play important roles. ASAM also notes that substance abuse disorders are closely linked with other mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, which may make an individual more vulnerable to using drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage uncomfortable feelings or stressors.
In addition to affecting behavioral health matters like moods and emotions, having an addiction can significantly impact one’s physical health as well by increasing the risk of serious diseases like heart disease or cancer due to long-term use of substances like tobacco products or alcohol; thus making it essential for individuals struggling with addictions seek professional help from qualified physicians who specialize in diagnosing mental illnesses like substance abuse disorders before treatment begins.
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