Understanding Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic disease commonly characterized by a physical and/or psychological dependence to the substance of choice. Addiction is compulsive and can be very difficult or even impossible to control. While the first time most people indulge in drugs or alcohol may be voluntary, social or experimental in nature, if the activity is repeated on a regular basis, physiological changes in the body and brain can occur. A compulsion to drink or use takes over, overriding logic and reason. The result can render an individual unrecognizable as the person they once were and drive them to desperate means in order to satisfy their urges. Lying, stealing, and betraying the trust of those close to them is not unusual. An addict rarely considers the consequences and can easily rationalize the risk, even if it comes at a monumental cost.

Why do some people become addicts while others do not?

Many people afflicted with drug and alcohol addiction begin using or drinking at an early age. There are many factors that contribute to whether the individual becomes ensnared in a full-fledged addiction, some psychological in nature and some as a result of biology or environment.

The “Alcoholism Gene”

The role of biology in addiction and alcoholism has been studied in-depth. While it is true that the disease seems to run in families, the incidence is likely to be the result of a combination of factors. Research into the science behind the alcoholism gene theory shows that biology is only about 50 percent responsible. The rest comes from environment.

Environment Plays An Important Role

One thing many addicts have in common is an underlying need to self-medicate. Often there are problems at home, or at school that might drive them to use beyond the experimental phase. Peer pressure, physical or sexual abuse, or early exposure to drug and alcohol use by their parents are common catalysts.

There are many studies that show that the earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely it will turn into an addiction. Additionally, if it appears normal to a child to drink or use, such as if their parents do it in front of them, the more likely they are to follow suit. During the early stages of development, a child’s mind is much more susceptible to suggestion and less inclined to exhibit any form of self-control. This is why children of alcoholics and addicts often grow up with drug and alcohol addiction themselves.

Casual Use & Social Drinking VS Addiction

A casual user or social drinker may indulge when they are at a party or in a social setting but will not continue to use on a daily basis. The addict or alcoholic develops a compulsion to seek out their drug of choice at any cost. They also develop a tolerance, requiring more of the substance to get the same result, which can lead to criminal, immoral, or socially unacceptable behavior in an attempt to gain access to the substance.

Some drugs, such as opioids or cocaine, can trigger an out of control downward spiral very quickly. Alcohol is no different. While some may manage to maintain a sense of normalcy for a short time, it will eventually catch up with them and can lead to insanity, incarceration, severe illness, and even death.

Coping With Addiction & Alcoholism

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.