When you’re stuck in the cycle of addiction, recovery can seem out of reach. But change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address your addiction’s root cause.
It takes courage and strength to face up to any type of addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, nicotine, gambling, the internet, or self-injury. But no matter how powerless you feel, there is hope and help available.
Recovery is a process, and there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before.
The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction—or has tried to help someone else to do so—understands why.
Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.
For many years, experts believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs could cause addiction. Neuroimaging technologies and more recent research, however, have shown that certain pleasurable activities, such as gambling, shopping, and sex, can also co-opt the brain.
Although a standard U.S. diagnostic manual (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition or DSM-IV) describes multiple addictions, each tied to a specific substance or activity, consensus is emerging that these may represent multiple expressions of a common underlying brain process.
New insights into a common problem
Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare. Consider the latest government statistics:
- Nearly 23 million Americans—almost one in 10—are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
- More than two-thirds of people with addiction abuse alcohol.
- The top three drugs causing addiction are marijuana, opioid (narcotic) pain relievers, and cocaine.
In the 1930s, when researchers first began to investigate what caused addictive behavior, they believed that people who developed addictions were somehow morally flawed or lacking in willpower. Overcoming addiction, they thought, involved punishing miscreants or, alternately, encouraging them to muster the will to break a habit.
The scientific consensus has changed since then. Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behavior.
Recovery is possible
It is not enough to “just say no”—as the 1980s slogan suggested. Instead, you can protect (and heal) yourself from addiction by saying “yes”.
Find Local Addiction Recovery Centers
When you opt for the increased success rates common to some of the top residential recovery centers, you give yourself or your loved one the best chance of achieving and maintaining sobriety. However, you’ll still need to consider whether to seek addiction treatment locally or take it out-of-state, putting distance between you and any abuse triggers. Calling a toll-free recovery hotline is an excellent way to start. You can discuss your local drug and alcohol recovery program options and have any questions answered that you might have about insurance coverage.
Numbers to Call:
- American Addiction Centers 24/7 Hotline, Insurance Covers Up To 100% of Treatment 1-888-969-8176
- Org Hotline: 1-888-319-2606. They can help you find a Recovery Center in your area.