Addiction is Complicated to Understand
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Health and Wellness

Addiction is Complicated to Understand

by a non-addict

Addiction is Complicated to Understand

Addiction is something that’s a little difficult to wrap our heads around. I am speaking to those who, like myself, have never suffered from addiction.

Addiction is not as easy to get a grasp on than, say cancer. With cancer, we understand what it is, what it does, and how it can sometimes happen to certain people. One of the big things we see from it, though, is that it’s really not anyone’s fault when someone contracts cancer.

Sure, the argument can be made that constant smoking or working at a nuclear power plant, or a host of other things can be constituted as being someone’s “fault,” but no one really intends to obtain cancer when doing these things.

Addiction is different.

The idea that addiction starts with a choice may have some truth to it, but it isn’t the wholly correct. No one who starts using drugs, like Heroin or Cocaine, intends to become addicted to the substance. There may be some animosity when people who are not addicted to substances hear that. I mean, we grow up learning about the dangers of drugs and how they are killers and how it’s your fault if you don’t say no.

So why is it that people still become addicted, especially we can see the horrors of it?

I don’t know. Or rather: I can’t fully understand and explain it myself. Addiction isn’t something that can be simply explained; contrary to popular belief, a rough upbringing isn’t the only reason someone becomes addicted to substances.

It’s hard to grasp because, as harsh as this may sound, there is something fundamentally different about people who become addicted to drugs or Alcohol in relation to those who aren’t.

And that’s where the disassociation comes from—this idea of them and us. And in a way, it’s true as addicted individuals are in the minority of the general population. This, in turn, creates the idea in our minds that addicted people are part of a societal subset that consists of deviants hellbent on just being deviants.

The truth of the matter is that addiction is a disease, as defined by the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. These organizations state that addiction is a chronic disease that is characterized by the brain’s inability to abstain, impairing behavioral controls, intense cravings, dysfunctional emotional responses and contains cycles of relapse and remission.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in its newest edition, has gone on to label substance abuse and addiction under one umbrella labeled “substance use disorder.” Substance use disorder and addiction are often used interchangeably with one another, which is where some confusion may come from.

It seems oxymoronic; people claim that addiction is a disease, but it’s something that people have done to themselves. They knew what they were getting into; they knew that this was a horrible way to cope with something; why is it so hard to stop? A common question asked is, “If I felt I was drinking too much, I’ll just stop, so why can’t they do the same?”

The answer to that is pretty straightforward: addiction is more than choosing to use something, it’s a brain chemical imbalance and a consistent psychological need to feel better all rolled up into this ball that continues to wreak havoc inside a person. When all these things are combined, the idea that addiction is a disease becomes a little clearer.

Addiction is a problem that seethes out of the idea that nothing else can help, that nothing else really matters. If you ask anyone in recovery how Heroin, Meth, Alcohol, or how any other substance feels like, they will tell you that it feels good.

They might tell you that soon after the first time, they would want to feel good every day, and soon, more than once a day. Soon after that, it was the only way to feel good.

Or maybe they won’t.

They might tell you that it was the worst decision of their life, and how they never really liked it in the beginning, but that it was just something that took the edge off and that it took over their life.

Or maybe they might tell you that there wasn’t a time where they were not using and that it was always really a part of them from the beginning.

From what can be seen, addiction is caused by a combination of behavioral, environmental and biological factors. Basically, there are a bunch of things that can influence someone into using, abusing, and eventually, becoming addicted to a substance.

There’s another question that others who are not addicted tend to ask, one that I believe is where the massive amounts of confusion come from: Why start using in the first place?

It’s hard for us to understand because it’s not something we are experiencing ourselves, myself included.

What I can understand is that no one chooses to be addicted to drugs or Alcohol. No one in their right mind wants to be subjected to the torture of needing something to function on a normal level. And yet, it happens.

So why is it that people decide to start using and then become an addict? Why does Alcohol not have that same debilitating effect on one person, if another person is ok?

It’s because they are different.

That is a very unsatisfying answer, but it’s an answer nonetheless. In fact, it’s really the only answer that we have right now, and it might be the only one we ever have. Some people are just born with a predisposition for addiction.

You may not understand that; it may not be comforting, and it may not provide any real insight into the mind of an addicted person, but that’s the answer, and the moment we stop trying to find a better one is the moment that we can start moving forward from the stigma’s and false accusations.

We can start finally doing better.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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