Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a medical disorder that is defined by both physical and psychological effects. A chronic disorder by nature, there is no cure as yet for the changes that occur in the brain due to long-term drug use. There are, however, a variety of treatments that have been well researched and proven to be effective in helping patients to overcome the impulse to drink or get high.
What is drug addiction exactly? Though many people may have a problem with substance abuse, only a percentage of them will meet the diagnostic criteria for addiction. Some characteristics of the disorder include:
- Psychological cravings for the drug
- High tolerance for the drug of choice that creates a need for more and more of the substance in order to achieve the desired high
- Withdrawal symptoms the drug of choice isn’t available
- Using more of the drug of choice than intended repeatedly
- An inability to moderate the use of drugs or alcohol
- Ongoing or increasing social, financial and medical issues caused by drug use
- An inability to quit using substances despite the continued problems caused by ongoing drug or alcohol use
According to the US Federal Courts, three or more of the above criteria must be met in order for the patient to be diagnosed with drug dependence and not substance abuse.
What’s the difference between drug abuse and addiction? Substance use disorders are defined by a spectrum of characteristics. On the far end of the spectrum is addiction, and at the other end are those who use drugs or alcohol rarely or recreationally and experience minimal or minor occasional issues as a result. Chronic drug abuse is defined along the spectrum between these two extremes. It is defined by the experience of one or more of the following issues in the year prior to diagnosis:
- The use of drugs or alcohol even when it puts oneself or others at risk (e.g., before getting behind the wheel or taking care of children)
- An ongoing struggle to manage responsibilities at work or at home due to the consequences of drug use (e.g., showing up late or calling in sick repeatedly to work, or being unable to manage the household budget or care for dependent family members properly)
- Legal problems caused by drug possession, drug purchase, or behavior under the influence
- Ongoing drug abuse despite continued personal, health and social issues
Treatment Saves Lives
Drug abuse and addiction have a number of characteristics in common and one of them is that both are treatable. Addiction is a deadly disease, and without intensive medical and psychotherapeutic treatment, patients will likely die due to a drug-related problem (e.g., accident under the influence, overdose, or drug-related medical emergency). Unfortunately, even for those who struggle with drug abuse that has not quite reached the level of addiction, continuing to abuse substances without treatment can also be a deadly choice. Overdose and accident under the influence can occur whether or not the person has attempted unsuccessfully to stop using substances in the past or if he experiences withdrawal symptoms when without his drug of choice.
You can find out more about the treatment services that will be most effective for your needs no matter what the nature of your relationship with drugs or alcohol today. Call now for more information.