Drug-related deaths are so prevalent in the U.S. that they lowered overall life expectancy for the last five years! Learn more about what drug addiction is and ask our doctors questions on the drug addiction forum.
The Truth About Drug Addiction
JourneyPure.com doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, count records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field and their own personal recovery.
Ahrnsbrak, R., Bose, J., Hedden, S. L., Lipari, R. N., & Park-Lee, E. (2017, September). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. SAMHSA; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSDUH-FFR1-2016.htm
Definition of Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Retrieved 8/22/21, from https://www.asam.org/Quality-Science/definition-of-addiction
Fowler, J. S., Volkow, N. D., Kassed, C. A., & Chang, L. (2007). Imaging the addicted human brain. Science & practice perspectives, 3(2), 4–16. https://doi.org/10.1151/spp07324
Hasin, D. S., O’Brien, C. P., Auriacombe, M., Borges, G., Bucholz, K., Budney, A., Compton, W. M., Crowley, T., Ling, W., Petry, N. M., Schuckit, M., & Grant, B. F. (2013). DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorders: recommendations and rationale. The American journal of psychiatry, 170(8), 834–851. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12060782
Linares, O. (2012). The Linares Addictive Potential Model. Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences, 2(2), 132–139. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272481174_The_Linares_Addictive_Potential_Model
Prescription Drug Overdose. National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 8/25/21, from https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/drug-overdose-death-rate-postcard.aspx
Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: Executive Summary. SurgeonGeneral.Gov; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved 8/22/21, from https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/executive-summary
(2015, January 14). How a Habit Becomes an Addiction. Association for Psychological Science. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/how-a-habit-becomes-an-addiction.html
All content is for informational purposes only. No material on this site, whether from our doctors or the community, is a substitute for seeking personalized professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from a qualified healthcare professional or delay seeking advice because of something you read on this website.
Drug Addiction Definition
(Drug addiction is called Substance Use Disorder in the latest DSM-5 diagnostic criteria).
Is addiction a disease?
In the simplest definition, a disease is something that changes cells in a negative way. Brain scans clearly show negative changes from addiction – specifically in the areas responsible for reward, stress and self-control.
Therefore, drug addiction is considered a brain disease.
All major medical associations consider addiction a brain disease – including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
But, isn’t drug addiction a choice?
As any addict will tell you…addiction is not a choice.
- Once the brain is changed by addiction, we lose control of our behavior until we retrain our brain.
- Genetics accounts for half of the likelihood that we develop addiction. And, we have no choice over our genetics.
More importantly, choice doesn’t determine whether something is a disease. Heart disease, diabetes and many cancers involve choices like diet, exercise or sun exposure. A disease is what happens in the body regardless of our choices.
Most Addictive Drugs
There are several formulas attempting to rank the addictive potency of drugs. In most models, heroin ranks number one.
The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows:
- The majority of heroin users (57%) and most meth users (46%) are addicted.
- But, significantly more people are addicted to alcohol (8 million), marijuana (3.2 million) and prescription pain relievers (1.1 million).
It’s not the drug alone that “makes” someone addicted.
Factors like genetics, age of first use and mental health struggles contribute to our reaction to drugs.
- Generally, only 20-30% of people who use a drug develop an addiction.Fact Checked
If heroin didn’t exist, most heroin addicts would still be addicts. They would use substances like pain relievers or alcohol instead, which is where they started before they gravitated toward heroin or meth.
Signs of Addiction
Everyone knows you “shouldn’t” use illegal drugs or misuse medications, but how do you know when you’ve crossed the line into drug addiction?
Using the drug even though you want to stop or cut back
Like abandoning commitments, hobbies or appearance and damaged relationships
Like driving high or visiting dangerous people/neighborhoods
Like depression, irritability, apathy or suicidal thoughts
Like hospitalizations, job loss, housing loss or arrests
Like withdrawal symptoms, heroin abscess or needing more of the drug
(Read more specifics on the Signs of Meth Use or Signs of Opioid Use articles).
We spend years justifying our drug use to continue using. We compare our drug use to others and say we’re not “that bad.” We blame stressful situations. We maybe even cut back for short periods of time. But, denial only keeps us locked in drug addiction and makes it harder to break free.
By the time you start reading articles like this, you need help.
Drug Addiction Help
There’s no quick fix for addiction. You can’t watch a YouTube video or attend a doctor’s appointment and be cured. But, drug addiction IS treatable and 5x more likely after rehab.
The Top Drug Rehabs in the Country
All treatment centers listed here are in-network with insurances including – Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Tricare and Medicaid. (Medicare will only cover hospitals).
Drug Rehab Tennessee
Listed as a top two drug treatment center by Addiction Center, Newsweek and the BBB.
Drug Rehabs in Kentucky
The highest rated in-network drug treatment center in the country on Google.
Florida Alcohol & Drug Rehab
Access the best treatment program in the country overlooking the ocean.
Suboxone, IOP and Outpatient Rehab Options
Lexington Drug Rehab
Drug Treatment Louisville
Drug Rehab Elizabethtown, KY
Drug Rehab Nashville
Drug Rehab Knoxville, TN
Drug Rehab Chattanooga
It will be tough, but not impossible to find treatment.
- Start with FindTreatment.gov
- If nothing comes up with the no cost filter, try sliding scale
- Religious facilities may not be listed, so ask around in NA meetings
Try as hard to get sober as you do to get high. You can do this! (Seriously).
(See also the Help for Family Members of Drug Addicts article for more drug education).
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