Addiction is a complex and chronic disease, often with a relapse and remitting course, which typically manifests as uncontrolled use of certain substances, including a variety of illicit and non-illicit substances, or engagement of behaviors such as gambling and sex/pornography. Addiction differs from non-pathologic behaviors in that individuals with addiction experience exaggerated activation and alteration of the brains intrinsic reward system related to the specific behavior(s), stimulating feelings of pleasure, which further reinforces these behaviors. Individuals with addiction lose their ability to control these behaviors, which become compulsive despite the negative and harmful consequences on health, work, school, home life, and overall functionality.
The CDC reports that one in 14 Americans experience a substance use disorder. Individuals with lower capacities for self-control and intrinsic inhibitory mechanisms may carry an increased predisposed risk to developing addictive behaviors. However, there is a unique influence of genetic, environmental, and psychosocial factors which all play a strong role in the development of addiction-related disorders.
Addiction and substance-use disorders are diagnosed with consideration of impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and symptoms such as tolerance and withdrawals related to the substance or behavior.
There are varying treatment and recovery options including pharmacologic and psychotherapy which have shown to be effective in helping reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and establishing healthy ways to improve impulse control and coping mechanisms to help prevent relapses. Unfortunately, addiction and substance use have been highly stigmatized which often acts as a large barrier to many individuals seeking help and treatment.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance-use disorder, do not hesitate to reach out for help. We are here to listen to your story and provide assistance.