Understanding addiction is tough for everyone. The people suffering from it don’t understand, and the people around them usually don’t either. If it was well understood and there were proven ways around it, everyone would stay sober!
If you have an addicted friend or family member it’s a good idea to work on understanding addiction and how it happens as much as you can. When you have a lot of knowledge in this area, it is easier to be there for an addict and help them eventually achieve sobriety.
There is a lot of blame that goes along with addiction. You probably blame the addicted person for a lot of the pain in your life. You may also blame yourself for contributing to their addiction, even if you can’t pinpoint how you might have. Having a better grasp on what addiction is can ease some of these thoughts so that you can move forward.
Why People Get Addicted
How many times have you asked yourself “why?” Why did this happen to your son/daughter/husband/wife/best friend? Well, the truth is that there is no one single answer to this question, but there are certain things that can contribute greatly. Here are some key factors that contribute to addiction:
- Family history. Genetics don’t lie, so if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse in the addict’s family, they have a higher chance of being involved in drug or alcohol abuse themselves.
- Environment. A person is truly a product of their environment, and if that environment includes drugs and alcohol, the person will most likely pick it up as well. The saying goes, “If you hang out near a barber shop long enough, you will eventually get a haircut.” Similarly, if a person hangs out in a group that is always drinking, smoking pot, using cocaine, etc. – chances are more than likely that they will start too.
- Circumstances. Sometimes things happen that are outside of a person’s ability to cope. Examples of this can be life-altering circumstances like death, divorce, trauma, assault, rape, eviction, or loss of a job. The list could go on and on because every person reacts to adversity differently. It is important for people to get the proper help they need when something happens so that they avoid turning to addiction.
- Mood disorders. Mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are increasingly common. With that, there is a rise of addiction that is related to mood disorders. People with these disorders often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to feel better, but it only creates a vicious cycle that leaves them worse off.
Understanding Addiction as a Process
Many people can’t believe that addiction has happened to someone that they know. Unfortunately, many people are still under the mistaken impression that addiction can’t affect certain groups of people, but they could not be more wrong. Addiction doesn’t discriminate, and it can happen to someone with the richest and best upbringing in the world as easily as it could happen to someone who is homeless.
There are four distinct steps of addiction. They are:
Stage 1 – Experimentation. This stage is the beginning when a person picks up a drug or drink for the first time. Unfortunately, while this stage may not seem bad, all too often this is where people OD or get alcohol poisoning because of their lack of experience. If experimentation continues, it leads to stage 2.
Stage 2 – Regular Social Use. In this stage, drinking alcohol or taking drugs has become normal in social situations. This stage is dangerous because social use can lead to heavy use, and even when surrounded by supposed friends, a person isn’t immune to the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.
Stage 3 – Problem Use. Things take a turn for the worse when a person begins to use to the point at which negative consequences arise. Examples include taking part in binge drinking or abusing drugs or drinking during inappropriate times, like at work or school.
Stage 4 – Chemical Dependency. During this last stage, an addict’s body has become accustomed to functioning with the substance in it. So, the person will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop. The person will have a hard time functioning without their substance of choice.
Understanding addiction isn’t easy, but having an idea of why and how your loved one may be suffering can be helpful. As always, encourage them to get help because recovery is possible no matter what stage of drug addiction they are in. If you need more information about addiction treatment programs, call Willow Place today at 1-888-651-4212.