Addiction: What it is and how to combat it?

 

 

See, no one ever sets out to become an addict. But it happens anyway. The first time you smoked that cigarette or sniffed that drug, you simply wanted to know what it feels like.

Or you wanted to forget that hurt so bad.

Maybe it felt so good, maybe it didn’t.

But it certainly felt like something you could try again.

Then you upgrade to once in a while.

And once in a while becomes every time.

Until you recognize that the behavior is affecting the things you care about and you cannot continue towing the dangerous line.

All along, you’re thinking you have it all together. That you can simply take a U-turn whenever you decide to. But when you eventually try, you’re surprised at how difficult it is to stop. That is when it dawns on you that you’re probably addicted.

 

 

What is addiction?

Addiction is a problem that is as common as it is complex. It’s a phenomenon that is better explained than defined. A lot of people think addiction is a manifestation of “personal weakness, initiated for self-gratification and continued because of an unwillingness or lack of sufficient willpower to stop.”[1] However the scientific and medical communities have come to the understanding that indulging in potentially addictive activities is more about escaping physical or emotional pain. Self-discipline or willpower plays only a minor role, if any at all.

 

 

The syndrome model of addiction

For a long time, the general assumption was that there are different types of addiction, fuelled by different substances or behaviors. But many addiction experts no longer subscribe to this view. New knowledge has shown that there is an addiction disorder and the disorder can have multiple expressions in different people[2]. For some, the expression may be in the form of psychoactive substances while for others, it’s in the form of behaviors such as shopping, gambling, exercising, etc.

The implication of this model is that the object of addiction is not as important as the disorder itself. The object only serves to fuel the disorder. Research into the brain has shown that all addictive substances or behaviors interact with our pleasure centers in the same manner. This is responsible for the similarities in the manifestation and progression of an addictive disorder. Importantly, it could be the key to combating the disorder.

 

 

How do you combat addiction?

There is no straight answer to this question. Combatting addiction is a gradual and often harrowing process. It starts with the realization that the implicated substance or behavior is doing more harm than good. Many people have been able to overcome addiction by transforming this realization into action. However, quite a number of people have not been that lucky. It doesn’t mean they are weaker than others, it simply means they need more help. The help may come from a social network such as a support group or from therapy- drugs and/or behavioral.

 

 

Relapse is a common occurrence in many victims of addictive disorder. You successfully stay off for a bit and think you’re fine. And then bang! You go back again and all the progress you have made vanishes. This could leave you frustrated and helpless. But it shouldn’t be the end of the road. Overcoming addiction could require many attempts and every experience should be considered a learning curve.

 

 

Whatever is responsible, the good news is that addiction is treatable. A lot of people have escaped the dungeons of addiction and they’re celebrating years of sobriety. The journey may the arduous, the road may be long and twisted, but there is hope. And that’s the most important thing an addict needs to hear.

 

 

Sources:

[1] Shaffer H.J (2017, June 19) What is addiction? Retrieved from {https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-addiction-2017061911870}

[2] Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., LaBrie, R. A., Kidman, R. C., Donato, A. N., & Stanton, M. V. (2004). Toward a syndrome model of addiction: multiple expressions, common etiology. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 12(6), 367-374.

Catalina Magee

Founder / Owner of Trend Prive Magazine. Romanian-born American, "seasoned" in Italy, "cooked" in Germany and currently serving in Israel. NCIS Special Agent in Charge EA.

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