Is Addiction a Mental Illness? Absolutely!

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Other drugs like cocaine or amphetamine trigger the release of your neurotransmitters but in unnaturally high amounts. Your brain works by sending messages along cells called neurons, using chemicals called neurotransmitters. Anyone can develop addiction or SUD, but some factors increase your risk. The American Psychological Association also defines addiction as chronic, with repeated exposure leading to brain changes. There is an increasing awareness about the way addiction is connected to brain function and how it has a significant impact on well-being.

In medicine, a chronic condition is usually never cured but is treated or managed to lessen symptoms or reduce long-term damage. So while acute conditions like a skin infection or appendicitis can be cured, chronic conditions like high blood pressure, asthma, low thyroid or addiction can only mash certified sober homes be treated. Drug and alcoholrehab programshave been shown to be effective tools for addiction recovery. It’s classified as a chronic illness because it’s the result of the effects of drugs on the brain, and as with other diseases of the brain, it includes both social and behavioral elements.

drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness

Relapse triggers a sense of failure, shame, and a slew of other negative feelings. It’s fine to acknowledge them, but not to dwell on them, because they could hinder the most important action to take immediately—seeking help. Taking quick action can ensure that relapse is a part of recovery, not a detour from it. The belief that addiction is a disease can make people feel hopeless about changing behavior and powerless to do so. It keeps people focused on the problem more than the solution. Seeing addiction instead as a deeply ingrained and self-perpetuating habit that was learned and can be unlearned doesn’t mean it is easy to recover from addiction—but that it is possible, and people do it every day.

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction

Caleb Blaschke, from Sioux Falls, SD, tried several attempts at sobriety before he found any success in moving forward from opioid addiction. One thing that made a big difference in giving him the boost he needed was Suboxone, the brand name for a drug that combines buprenorphine and naloxone. These detect fentanyl, a dangerous and very strong opioid that is a key driver of the epidemic and is often found laced in drugs that are bought on the street.

Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction. Dysfunction of reward processing correlates with alcohol craving in detoxified alcoholics. Effects of adrenal sensitivity, stress- and cue-induced craving, and anxiety on subsequent alcohol relapse and treatment outcomes. PFC, OFC, and ACC in increased relapse risk and poor alcohol recovery. These studies clearly point to the PSL circuit as a critical early target of alcohol effects and its potential, deleterious impact on neuroplasticity with chronic alcohol abuse.

drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness

These relapses can occur even after long periods of abstinence. The ASAM notes “Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.” But after the high they experience, there is a neurochemical rebound which causes the reward function of the brain to drop below the original normal level. When the activity is repeated, the same level of euphoria or relief is not achieved. Simply put, the person never really gets as high as they did that first time.

What Is a Mental Relapse?

The MAT approach has been shown to help people addicted to opioids survive, stick to their treatment, decrease their drug use and any related criminal activity, as well as find and keep jobs. ASAM suggests that comprehensive addiction treatment should focus on all active and potential substances and behaviors that could be addictive. ASAM was careful to point out that the fact that addiction is a primary, chronic brain disease does not absolve addicts from taking responsibility for their behaviors. Excessive substance abuse affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When a person consumes a substance such as drugs or alcohol, the brain produces large amounts of dopamine; this triggers the brain’s reward system. After repeated drug use, the brain is unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own.

Practice self-care, such as mind-body relaxation, which can help a person stay in recovery. Thinking of ways to use that they think they can control, such as having substances only while on vacation. Our self-assessment may be helpful in recognizing substance abuse in yourself. Don’t go back to the neighborhood where you used to get your drugs. A strong, stable bond between you and your child will reduce your child’s risk of using or misusing drugs. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, either through unsafe sex or by sharing needles with others.

drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness

Some people have described feeling addicted from the first time they use a substance. Researchers have found that the heritability of addictions is around 40—60% and that genetics “provide pre-existing vulnerabilities to addiction increased susceptibility to environmental risk factors.” The differences between the most relapsed drugs and the least are minimal. While not much information exists about relapse rates for specific substances, one eco sober house cost study found that individuals who were addicted toalcoholhad the highest rate of abstinence at discharge from treatment. However, regardless of the drug used, studies have found between 65–75% chance of relapse in the 90-day period following treatment. When someone suffers from addiction, they have a compulsion to keep using a substance, whether it be drugs or alcohol, in spite of negative consequences they experience as a result of that use.

What Is Addiction?

My blood pressure was too high.” Zaklikowski consulted her physician about her health problems, and it took one conversation about her diet for him to recommend she drink less caffeine. On a typical day, she would drink sixty-four ounces of Diet Coke in addition to as many as three double-shot skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks. That this was, simply, too much had never occured to Zaklikowski.

The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted varies by drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause addiction more quickly than others. As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it.

This case study provides a glimpse into the reality of the challenges it entails. Women progress more quickly to addiction, and hormones may be playing a role. One way of ensuring recovery from addiction is to remember the acronym DEADS, shorthand for an array of skills to deploy when faced with a difficult situation—delay, escape, avoid, distract, and substitute. For his first fifteen years of service, Bivens had been considered a “squared-away sailor”—orderly, competent, conscientious. But he had been missing work lately, sometimes for weeks at a time, and now he was standing in front of an ad hoc disciplinary tribunal investigating his rapid and seemingly inexplicable decline in job performance.

  • In addition, feelings of guilt and shame are isolating and discourage people from getting the support that that could be of critical help.
  • Substance use takes priority over work, school, or home obligations.
  • And increase alcohol craving and other withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, negative emotion, autonomic nervous system disruption, fatigue, and sleep problems (Breese et al.
  • The changes that happen in the brain of an addict aren’t the same as the intoxicating effects of the drug.
  • Therapy is extremely helpful; CBT is very specifically designed to uncover and challenge the kinds of negative feelings and beliefs that can undermine recovery.

Even after a person has sought treatment for addiction, there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure they stay in recovery and remain sober. This is the same as what’s seen with other chronic diseases. The changes that happen in the brain of an addict aren’t the same as the intoxicating effects of the drug. For example, you can feel drunk from alcohol, but this doesn’t mean your brain wiring is changed and that you’re an addict.

What Drug Has the Highest Relapse Rate?

If you are at a gathering where provocation arises because alcohol or other substances are available, leave. Cravings can intensify in settings where the substance is available and use is possible. Recognize that cravings are inevitable and do not mean that a person is doing something wrong. • Build a support network of friends and family to call on when struggling and who are invested in recovery. • Unpleasant feelings including hunger, anger, loneliness, and fatigue.

There is perhaps no mind-altering substance as tightly woven into the fabric of daily life than caffeine. Nearly 80 percent of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine, in some form, every day. Coffee is the primary caffeine-delivery mechanism for many people—two thirds of American adults drink it every day—and many consider it an indispensable part of daily life. T-shirts and, naturally, coffee mugs exclaim, “Not before I’ve had my coffee” or “But first, coffee,” as if the travails of everyday living are impossible without a morning cup of joe. For some, coffee even serves as a handy substitute for having a personality.

If you start using the drug again, talk to your health care provider, your mental health provider or someone else who can help you right away. It may seem like you’ve recovered and you don’t need to keep taking steps to stay drug-free. But your chances of staying drug-free will be much higher if you continue seeing your therapist or counselor, going to support group meetings and taking prescribed medicine. Children of parents who misuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction. Legal problems are common for drug users and can stem from buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support the drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disputes over child custody.

Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people. Once you’ve started using a drug, the development into addiction may be influenced by inherited traits, which may delay or speed up the disease progression. Use of hallucinogens can produce different signs and symptoms, depending on the drug. The most common hallucinogens are lysergic acid diethylamide and phencyclidine .