What is Addiction?

The disease of addiction is just that – a disease. Similar to any other disease like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, addiction requires professional treatment in order to properly manage. It is extremely rare that individuals addicted to drugs and/or alcohol stop using on their own and never experience a relapse. Relapse is something that all who are recovering from active addiction should prepare for, as the chances of picking up and using again is a real possibility. However, just as someone who experiences a diabetic relapse obtains help to get back on track, the same goes for someone who has an addiction-related relapse.


When an addictive substance is continually abused on a regular basis, the user can start to develop a tolerance to it. Tolerance is a physical effect of substance abuse where the user’s body becomes accustomed to the amount of addictive substances he or she is used to abusing. Once the body is tolerant of a certain dosage, the user must increase that dosage in order to feel the desired effects of the substance. This is also a major risk factor for overdose because when the amount of a substance increases to a point where the body cannot process it, the body begins to shut down, which can lead to death.


One of the most complex aspects about the disease of addiction and the behaviors that occur because of it is that the behaviors themselves are rarely socially acceptable, making it that much harder for people to fully grasp why someone is behaving in this manner. However, with a strong understanding of how drugs and alcohol can affect the functioning of both the brain and the body, those looking on at someone with a substance use disorder can develop ways of coping, avoiding enabling, and finding treatment means that can benefit the user and his or her wellbeing.

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