What is addiction?
Addiction is the consistent dependence on substances or things. It’s the inability to break the pattern of using, accessing or being around those substances or things.
It is the strong, consistent desire to do or have something to the point that you are unable to resist it.
For some people, it doesn’t take much to get addicted and they don’t know how their addictions started. For some folks, it takes them a while to admit that they have an addiction problem, even when others tell them. There are some people that will never admit that they have an addiction problem and will stay in denial.
Addictions are easy to get out of control and difficult to stop for most people, because the thing that people are addicted to gives them such satisfaction that they don’t know how to cope or live without it.
Who is an addict?
An addict is someone who is emotionally, physically or psychologically dependent upon a substance, activity or thing to get through their day or their issues. An addict does not have the ability to stop using the substance and sometimes have a physical or mental break down when they try to stop or if they don’t have access to it.
An example of an addict is a drug addict. A drug addict is someone who uses harmful drugs to get a high or an intense feeling of pleasure. When the drug wears off, so does the feeling, and to experience that high again, the person uses the drug again. They will continue to use the drug until they abuse it, using it excessively and too often.
Often, they will spend all their money to get the drug and are dependent on it. If they stop taking the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms which is another motivation to keep taking the drug. As a result, the individual is addicted to the drugs and is unable to stop taking it.
Another example of an addict is an alcohol addict. An alcohol addict is someone who is consistently having multiple drinks and cannot easily stop drinking when they want to. They may aim to only have 1 drink but end up having 6 drinks. They have a strong compulsion to keep drinking until they pass out, vomit or engage in erotic tantrums.
What Does ‘Once an Addict Always an Addict’ Mean?
You may have heard the saying “Once an addict is always an addict” but you may be wondering where that came from. Why do they say “once an addict an addict always an addict”?
The meaning of ‘Once An Addict, Always An Addict ‘ is that if you are addicted to drugs or alcohol you’ll never be able to quit, and even if you quit, it’ll be temporary, it won’t last and you’ll always relapse and go back to being an addict.
It means that once you venture down the path of drinking, smoking or using drugs you’ll never be able to stop, you’ll always be addicted to drugs and alcohol.
It’s a statement that renders people who uses drugs and alcohol hopeless and powerless, declaring that they will never be able to change their states.
Is it true that Once An Addict Always An Addict?
Once An Addict, Always An Addict is not true. While it is hard to break an addiction, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With all habits, they are easy to make and hard to break, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE to stop.
People are quick to say that ‘once an addict, always an addict‘ when it comes on to drugs and alcohol addicts, but if someone is addicted to sweets or shopping or video games, would they still say ‘once an addict always an addict‘? Would someone say ‘once you’re addicted to sweets, you’ll always be addicted to sweets?’ Likely not! So that means that this ‘once an addict always an addict‘ statement is flawed, subjective and simply not accurate.
The reason why once an addict always an addict is not true is because we are evolving beings and change is possible in any circumstances, and not everyone who has struggles with alcohol and drugs now will have that same struggle in the future, there are many cases of short term users.
What do people get addicted to?
There are many things that people get addicted to. You can be addicted to almost any thing. Some of the things that people are addicted to are:
- Drinking Alcohol
- Going Out
- Prescription and Illicit Drugs
- Social Media
- Video Games
But the most common forms of addictions that you may hear about are alcohol addiction, marijuana addiction, nicotine addiction, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, meth addiction, opioids addiction and prescription drugs addiction.
Why do people get addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?
When people drink, smoke or take drugs, it increases the dopamine levels in the brain which increases the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction, thus making the person feels amazing.
When someone continuously smokes, use drugs or drinks, there is a surge in the dopamine levels in the brain and the brain tries to balance the levels between the normal level of substances and the dopamine levels in the brain. To do this the brain reduces the dopamine levels by decreasing the amount of dopamine receptors or producing less dopamine.
Since the dopamine level has been now reduced to normalize the levels, the individual now has to continue to smoke, drink or use drugs to increase the dopamine levels again. Some times they have to use more alcohol or drugs to achieve that high. As a result there is a constant need to keep drinking, using drugs or smoking to increase the dopamine level and keep feeling good, resulting in addiction.
Do you get Addicted the First Time you use Drugs or Drink?
Not everyone who drinks, smokes or takes drugs gets addicted right away, the more you drink, smoke or take drugs the more you adapt to it and will want to reinforce this habit and become dependent on it for survival. So it may take a couple of times before one gets addicted.
However, some drugs and alcohols increases the dopamine levels faster than others, for example, drugs that are injected into the body or snorted through the nose has an almost immediate effect and will get you hooked on it in just one use. Heroin is one of those drugs, that’s why it is so addictive.
Who is most likely to get addicted?
Young people are more vulnerable to becoming addicted. According to a study in 2014, 74% of the 18-30 year olds that were admitted to treatment had used substances when they were 17 years old or younger, and 10.2% had used drugs when they were 11 years old or younger.
Additionally, individuals with emotional or mental issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, PTSD, bipolar, quilt and shame are most likely to get addicted.
What are the Reasons for People Getting Addicted?
One of the primary reason why people get hooked on substances is to escape their realities. If they are stressed, hurt, having a rough day at work, having a difficult time with their wife/husband/kids/parents, they’ll want to use something to make them feel better, or at least help them feel less bad.
Drugs and alcohol gives them that reprieve, even if it’s temporarily. And because they don’t solve the problem that they have and confront their realities, they use drugs and alcohol as a crutch and keep needing to get high to escape their realities.
For a lot of people, avoidance is their method of coping with difficult situations. And because it’s easier for them to escape their problems than confront them, using drug and alcohol becomes habitual and leads to addiction.
On the other hand, some people take drugs and alcohol as something to do for fun, when they are bored with their lives and want to feel good, or to pacify themselves for their misfortunes in life. Others do it for pain management, and to help them sleep. While some persons might take drugs and alcohol as a result of peer pressure.
All of these habitual indulgement in drugs and alcohol can quickly become addictive.
What are the signs of addiction?
There are behavioral, physical and emotional signs of addiction. It is critical to understand the signs of addiction so that you can get help early on.
Below we have compile the most common signs of addictions:
- Inability to stop engaging in the addictive behavior
- Hiding the habits from others out of fear of judgement
- Getting moody, angry and irritated easily
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Increased anxiety and stress
- Getting depressed or sick when you try to stop the habit
- Changes in attitude and behavior
- Unexplained paranoia
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Borrowing or stealing to spend on the habit
- Lying about indulging in the habit
- Always thinking about the habit and when you’re going to do it next
- Secretly engaging in the habit
- Abandoning other financial responsibilities to spend on the habit
- Skipping other social responsibilities (school, work, family time) to engage in the habit
- Engaging in the habit multiple times per day
- Increased agitation and temper when you don’t get to engage in the habit
- Inability to concentrate and focus
- Reduced performance at school or work
- No longer participating in important hobbies and events
- Failing to stop the habit even after making efforts
- Continuing the habit even after experiencing negative consequences
- Presence of insomnia
- Reduced effort in personal hygiene and/ physical appearance
- Weight loss and changes in eating pattern
- Loss of control on when and how often you engage in the habit
- Offering justification and excuses on why you engage in the habit
- High craving and desire to engage in the habit
- Changing the topic to avoid discussing the habit
- Unable to control emotions or outbursts
How to avoid addiction?
One of the primary reasons why people get addicted to substances is because there is a lack in their life and they are trying to fill a void, or their experiences struggles in their lives and want to escape their realities. They are stressed, angry, hurt, depressed, lonely, agitated or in pain and they don’t know how to cope with those issues, so they resolve it by using drugs and alcohol to suppress how they feel and give them temporary relief and satisfaction.
To avoid drugs and alcohol addiction, you need to ensure that you have a balanced life, so that there is little to no lack and there is no need for you to seek substances to cope or make you feel better.
13 Ways to Avoid Addiction
- Learn to cope with stress and resolve your issues
- Find your purpose in life – Do something that you truly enjoy and will give your life meaning
- Engage in hobbies that keeps you happy and distracted
- Practice self care
- Reserve time for yourself – Have some ‘me time’
- Build a support network – Have a close set of friends and family that you can talk to. Also have a therapist on stand-by for whenever you need them
- Get involved in something that make you feel proud and helpful, for example, volunteering at an animal shelter
- Avoid peer pressure and temptation from others – Remove people from your social circle who are pressuring you to use drugs and alcohol
- Learn how to say ‘No’ to persons – Take back your power and say ‘no’ to drinking, smoking or using drugs
- Eat healthy, practice proper nutrition and exercise
- Do something that’s fun and adventurous once in a while
- Spend time with family and friends
- Take prescription drugs exactly as prescribed, do not take more than is prescribed
Cons of addiction?
Addiction can have sever mental, physical, social and psychological impacts. People who are addicted can have health issues such as stroke, cancer, heart or lung diseases. Furthermore, blood tests, neuroimaging scans and chest x-rays shows negative effects of chronic drug and alcohol use on the body.
According to a 2011 study by Nature Reviews Neuroscience, neuroimaging scans of people with prolonged use of opioid, cocaine and alcohol reveals a reduction in the number of neurons in the brain and dysfunction of their prefrontal cortex (PFC). As a result, inhibiting their abilities to control their impulses and make right decisions.
Furthermore, Individual that does drugs that requires the use of needles are at risk of contracting diseases and viruses by sharing needles. Some of the diseases that can be contracted are: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV/Aids.
Some additional cons of addiction are:
- Getting into car accidents due to being high
- Getting bad grades or dropping out of school
- Reduced time with friends and family
- Getting arrested for possession of drugs or being high
- Financial problems and poor money management. For example, failed rent/mortgage payment and getting evicted from home
- Losing your job
- Losing your parental custody
- Losing your reputation
- Poor or failed relationships with family and friends
Can you stop being addicted?
Addiction is treatable and you can recover from addiction. According to Harvard Health “people can and do recover from addiction“.
It is possible to stop being addicted, however it is important to remember that this might not happen in one attempt and it will take multiple attempts. Be prepared for it to take consistent effort and some time for you to stop being addicted.
With each attempt you’ll learn something new that will help you to move closer to your goals and achieving your recovery objectives. The recovery process will have its ups and downs but the more you work towards recovery the better it’ll be and the more addiction will lose its influence on you.
Some addictions are harder to overcome than others. For example, we’ve had clients who have been able to quit drinking and smoking with minimal effort but struggle to quit meth. And then there are some of our clients who have quit meth and cocaine but still have a heavy dependence on alcohol. While many of our other clients have been able to quit all addiction or reduce it drastically within a few sessions. So stopping your addiction will depend on your own experience and your will to change.
How to overcome addiction?
According to American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is treatable, it is possible to recovery from addiction and no longer be an addict. Some persons recover from addiction on their own, while others do so with the help of Recovery Programs.
Here are some steps to take to overcome addiction:
- You must want to change in order to overcome addiction, as result you need to commit to being sober.
- Write down why you’d like to quit. What’s your motivation for quitting? Is it for a better you? Is to save your relationship? Is it to win back custody of your kids? Is it to maintain your job? Is it for your family? Complete your Individual Affirmation Statement here in the Free KCB Recovery Program.
- Change your mindset by replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
- Remove any reminder of drugs and alcohol from your environment; remove it from your house, car, garage, drawers, etc. Just get rid of it.
- Resist the urge to drink, smoke or use
- Identify your triggers and write them down so you can avoid them
- Remove people or things from your live that causes you to drink, smoke or use
- Identify a hobby that you can do or a place that you can go to distract yourself from using, smoking or drinking.
- Seek help from Recovery Experts
- Do a positive affirmation to override your negative thoughts (see the video below)
Steps to take towards becoming addiction-free
If you have an addiction problem and are struggling, you have get help with one-on-one recovery sessions with an experience Recovery Coach.
Some people are incredibly dependent on drugs and alcohol and when they try to quit the experience very unpleasant withdrawal symptom. Our recovery counselling can help you to manage your withdrawals and help you with your recovery journey.
It is important to have easy, quick, accessible access to recovery treatment. If you or somebody that you know is struggling with an addiction please contact us.
Addiction may affect a number of areas of your life: Family and relationships, physical health, mental health finance, career, education, etc. It is important to find a program that will support you by providing counselling and follow ups.
How can I help my family member or friend who is struggling with addiction?
Here’s how you can help to support your family member’s or friend’s recovery journey:
- Have an open ear and a non-judgement heart so that they are willing to speak to you about their struggles
- Provide a trigger-free environment
- Do not shame them or pressure them, that’ll likely make things words
- Encourage them and motivate them
- Acknowledge when they are doing well and celebrate small wins with them