First we should try to define “drug addiction,” which is no easy task. There has been ongoing debate over this contentious term, which draws opinions from medical doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, counselors, scientists, educators and others.
Experts tend to agree to some extent that addiction is a brain disease. The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM’s definition) of addiction explains this concept in detail.
Anyone who is struggling with their own substance misuse will be relieved to know that you are not alone and drug addiction recovery is definitely possible. Keep reading. Perhaps you are curious to learn about this complicated disease because you are affected by someone else’s drug abuse. It may be easier to grasp the purpose of drug addiction recovery once you understand what drug addiction is not.
These are some of the widespread inaccuracies that set up fraudulent expectations of recovery.
Drug addiction is NOT:
- Something that someone chooses. (To be fair – initially it is the individual’s decision to try a drug – almost never with the intention of developing an addiction to it. There are studies which prove some people are born with a genetic predisposition to addiction. This means if a parent is an alcoholic or drug addict, their child is four times more likely to develop a drug addiction, according to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA).
- Something that anyone can stop by themselves. ( They may think they can stop whenever they want and they may even try to prove this to themselves or to others, who have the courage to address this touchy topic! So they decide to just drink beer during the week and save the hard liquor, cocaine and prescription pills for weekends only. If this approach works for more than a week or two, chances are it will be difficult to adhere to this idealistic system for much longer. Addiction causes cravings, both physical and psychological, which in some cases are extreme and impossible for an individual to eliminate by self-will alone.)
- Something that you can force someone else to stop just because you want them to stop. (Regardless of how much the addict in your life, the addict you love who loves you, wants to quit using, it is highly unlikely that they can just quit “cold turkey” without the help of an addiction treatment program. No matter how much your spouse, child, friend, or even parent tell you they want to and will quit on their own, you should not allow them to manipulate you into believing it. The truth is they will give you every excuse you can imagine as to why they must delay the death of their addiction – you know come next Monday after the weekend because there’s this huge party or after they get their next paycheck or after the stress at work eases up or after the big test at school next week…” Without professional help drug addiction recovery is seldom a realistic possibility.)
- Something that is hopeless or impossible to recover from IF the addict decides they want to quit, and they choose to surrender and seek professional help. (Drug addiction recovery is always a viable choice for the person who is actively abusing substances. However, recovery only works when the addict is ready to quit. Addiction is not “curable” like other “diseases.” Once an addict – always an addict. Drug addiction recovery is a journey that requires hard work every day for the rest of their life.)
The disease of addiction is chronic and progressive. People can and do recover with professional treatment and aftercare that may include outpatient counseling for mental health conditions, trauma, and related, unresolved issues from their past that may contribute to their choice to use drugs or “self-medicate” to make the pain go away.
If you think someone you love is in trouble with drugs or if you just want to learn more about drug addiction recovery, we are here to help. You can contact us – 24 hours a day / seven days a week. You do not have to suffer alone.