Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Is Addiction?

Hello Everyone, How are you? Good I hope. I have been wanting to start a series of posts on Addiction and Mental Health. Although I am sure you are all learning plenty thanks to Charlie Sheen right?? Wrong LOL! I'm sorry, but enough of him already!! The media I believe, does what it believes is it's best to inform people, but is often to caught up in the sensationalism of celebrities and not truly giving enough information. Alcohol and Cocaine are not the main drugs that people are addicted to, I know plenty of people who are also addicted to other drugs such as Pot and Pills, I know plenty of people that have addictions other than drugs and alcohol. Addiction can be either physically and mentally or both at the same time. I was saddened to see the amount of young people in rehab that were in there for Heroine and Oxycontin. Those two drugs must be the most popular drugs of choice these days among their age group, so please if you have teens or young adults you need to be aware of the signs. A drug is a drug, is a drug, as they say, and no, beer is no better than whiskey, just ask your Doctor to check your liver after drinking beer heavily for 30 yrs! A shopaholic is probably no better off than a gambler once they cross that line (I will talk about the line in upcoming posts) I want to start of my series of posts with the basic understanding of addiction and build on the series from this. Addiction is a major Mental Health issues that effects so many people across all socio economic classes and races. No one is immune from it. I hope this helps anyone out there who may be concerned about themselves or a loved one.
Thank you for visiting my blog,
Love ya,
Janet :)

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What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a habit that is often hard to stop and that increasingly interferes with a person’s life. The habit could involve a substance such as alcohol or another drug, or an activity such as gambling. Not everyone agrees about the exact meaning of addiction, but the checklists for determining if someone has an addiction usually include these items:
* the person cannot stop the substance use or the activity, despite trying to stop again and again
* the substance or the activity has become the focus (or preoccupation) of the person’s life
* the person continues the use or activity despite severe negative consequences, (e.g., imprisonment or financial disaster)

According to the World Health Organization:
* 76.3 million people worldwide have alcohol use disorders
* at least 15.3 million people worldwide have drug use disorders
* about one third of the world’s population over the age of 15 smoke tobacco.

Gambling is an activity that is growing in popularity, and so the concern about problem gambling is growing as well, for example:
* in 2004, Canadians gambled roughly $12.4 billion on some form of government-run gambling activity
* roughly 332,000 people in Ontario are experiencing problems as a result of their gambling.

What Causes Addiction?
It's puzzling why some people become addicted and others do not. No single answer has been found. It seems that people develop addictions through a mixture of factors such as:
* genes
* the way a person’s brain works
* difficulties during childhood
* mental health problems
* stress
* cultural influences.

While researchers continue to study the mysteries of addiction, some things are clear: nobody chooses to become addicted, and addiction is not simply due to
personal weakness or character flaws.

Risk Factors for Addiction
While the exact cause of addiction is not known, researchers have found that certain things raise the risk of becoming addicted. People usually start trying out substances and activities that could become addictive in their youth, so research has focused on this age group.
The risk factors for addiction in youth include:
* alcohol or other drug problems among family members
* poor school performance
* poverty
* family conflicts, chaos
* stress
* having friends who drink or use other drugs
* not fitting in socially
* emotional, physical or sexual abuse

How Does Addiction Develop?
Experimenting
1. Start using a substance or an activity such as gambling for fun, curiosity, to be part of a group.
2. Find the use/activity brings good feelings, more confidence, escape from problems.
Repetitive use
1. Repeat use/activity to feel good again or to cope with stress.
2. Come to rely on use/activity to escape problems or bad feelings.
3. Body and mind get used to the good feeling; need more use/activity to get the desired effect (tolerance is developing)
Result
1. Need more energy, money for use/activity; have less time for other things, such as relationships.
2. Health, social life, finances, work start to suffer, creating more problems to be escaped through the use/activity.
3. Spend less time with people not involved in the use/activity; become isolated from those who might help with problem use/activity.
4. Continue use/activity despite negative effects, such as loss of job, relationships, home; serious health problems; conflicts with the law.
5. Use/activity is now the focus of life; attempts to stop or cut back fail - addiction results.

Addiction Affects Both Mind and Body
Addiction is sometimes referred to as "dependence." When it comes to substance use, there are two kinds of dependence:
Psychological dependence occurs when a person feels he or she needs the drug to function or feel comfortable.
Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body has become used to the presence of a drug. Tolerance has developed, which means that the person needs to use more of the drug to get the same effect. When the person stops using the drug, symptoms of withdrawal occur. People often think that psychological dependence is not as serious as physical dependence. This is not necessarily true. Cocaine, for example, does not cause physical dependence, but it is considered one of the easiest drugs to get hooked on and one of the hardest to give up.

5 comments:

  1. Great post, Janet, and I hope you keep up the series.

    I'm sure you'll get around to the subject of co-addiction; the massive social aspect of addiction. Addiction quickly becomes the "elephant in the living room," with family and friends colluding with the addict to deny the problem and keep the problem "safe."

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  2. I love that you are addressing this topic. As you may know I am an addict in a constant state of recovery plus I am Bipolar and it is a struggle.

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  3. A very informative article. Dealing with addiction is a nightmare, but there is hope and help to be found. Thank you for sharing this.

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  4. Thank you all so, so much!! I appreciate your support in this area more than you'll ever know :)

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  5. This is such great information! I have suffered from alcoholism and overcoming my addiction was the hardest thing I have had to do. I found a lot of good tips at http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-gb that helped me overcome my alcoholism. Thank you for sharing this.

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