Addiction: Back to Basics

It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with the latest trends in addiction, what new warning signs parents and teachers should be on the lookout for, and the latest everyday item teens are using to get high and endanger their health. Sometimes it is best to get back to basics. Our general understanding of addiction is still lacking when it comes to facts, so let’s focus on the ABCs of substance abuse and what we can all do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using. Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful. When we think of the word “addiction,” our minds usually go to drugs or alcohol. In the past the term referred only to psychoactive substances that cross the blood-brain barrier, temporarily altering the chemical balance of the brain. Now we know that addictions can also include behaviors such as gambling, sex and gaming. These behavioral or process addictions may not have the same chemical effect as addictions to drugs, alcohol or nicotine, but they result in the same feelings of guilt, shame, hopelessness, despair, failure, rejection and anxiety.

Many of us can use addictive substances or engage in addictive activities without any negative effects. Others are unable to control their use and experience strong cravings for more. Their misuse leads to addiction and significant psychological or physical issues.

We all do things we know aren’t necessarily good for us, so how can we distinguish a bad habit from a serious addiction? At its core, addiction is an issue of control. Addictions contain a psychological and physical component. The person is unable to control the problem or stop despite negative consequences. A habit is done by choice and can be stopped successfully, if and when the person wants to. The problem is that those who are battling addiction are often unrealistic about the depth of their problem, believing they do still have the power to stop long after that is no longer true.

Much research has been done to determine the causes of addiction, but it is still not fully understood why one person can have one drink and walk away and another will spiral into alcoholism. Addiction is generally believed to be caused by a combination of physical, mental, circumstantial and emotional factors.

As addiction grows, dependency leads to tolerance, meaning the addicted person needs more of their drug of choice to get the same effect. At this point the substance abuse continues just to stave off the unpleasantness of withdrawal. Substance use rarely results in those initial good feelings that started the problem.

While there is still much to learn about addiction, there is plenty we already understand. And the more educated we are, the better armed we are to prevent addiction or know when to seek professional help.

Addiction Help at The Oaks at La Paloma

If you or someone you love needs treatment for an addiction, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.