What is Addiction?
Addiction is a condition in which individual engages in using a substance or seeking a behaviour which leads to rewarding effects in the brain and it reinforce the individual to repeat the using or seeking behaviour again and again. Addiction develops gradually over a period of time and due to the repetition of same pleasure seeking pattern individual become physically and psychologically dependent on the substance or to any other object at the center of addiction.
People can get addicted to many substances like alcohol, nicotine, drugs, solvents, etc. In the case of these substances, physical and mental dependency both can occur. There are other objects and behaviours which also activate brain reward system in the same way and can make people dependent on them, like gambling, shopping, videogames, watching pornography, etc. But in case of these objects or behaviours, psychological dependency can be more prominent.
It has been seen that there are lots of other mental problems found among individuals suffering from any kind of addiction, like anxiety, depression, personality disorders, psychosis, etc. Individual who is addicted to a substance or an object or behaviour indulge into compulsive pattern of seeking the same in spite of their detrimental consequences. Consequences of addiction can be seen on a person’s health, personal life, occupational life and social life. Addiction can lead to severe unmanageability in one’s life.
Especially when it comes to substances, like alcohol, nicotine or any kind of drugs, we must understand how the tolerance level of the brain develops? Tolerance develops when an individual no longer responds to a substance in the way he/she did at first. So, it takes a higher dose of the substance to achieve the same effect as when the individual first used it. This is why people with substance use disorders use more and more of a drug to get the “high” feeling that they seek.
A blog posted by an alcoholic:
“I always wished I could drink like other people. But I never could. I thought it was the third drink that got me into trouble. If I only had two, then I’d be fine. Thing is, once I put that first drink to my lips, I could no longer accurately predict what would happen next. I might go home, but I might not.
You’d think if I made it home, then my drinking was a success. Wrong! If I made it home after two drinks, there was an insatiable need raging within me and I was gonna take it out on you. After all, you’re the reason why I had to come home. I would punish my family by being silent or mean, or emotionally distant.
Looking back, it was never intentional. I didn’t purposely choose not to go home. I didn’t leave the house with a suitcase containing a fresh set of clothes, a toothbrush and my cosmetics. Seriously, I was only going out for ‘a few.”
If anybody can relate to this or can understand this, he or she can understand tolerance, powerlessness and unmanageability.
How to recover from addiction?
To be an addict can’t be anybody’s choice, but recovery can be one’s choice. The first key step to come out of your addiction is developing acceptance. For a person to admit their powerlessness in addiction to drugs or alcohol or to any other object at the center of addiction is a monumental first step to recovery. Powerlessness means the person do not have any control over his/her use of substance. Powerlessness may indicate weakness and helplessness; some may think it fosters a victim mentality. Acceptance starts developing when a person admit that he or she is powerless over the substance or object at the center of addiction and their lives have become unmanageable because of that.
Addiction is a disease and recovery is not an easy process. Individuals who are already into the grip of addiction need to seek help. One cannot go through the journey of recovery alone. There is a myth that addiction is a habit and one can get out of it if he or she has the ‘Will Power’. It’s actually not true. To get out of the disease you need to develop ‘Skill Power’, like skills to understand your physical and psychological mechanisms when it comes to the substance or the object of addictions, skills to handle cravings, skills to be assertive enough to manage social cues, skills to deal with day to day life stressors, etc. And in this process of developing skills and maintaining your recovery, you need the help of professionals.
A complete treatment program has three important approaches. First one is psychopharmacological (medicine) approach, second is psychotherapeutic approach and the third one is the 12 step program of alcohol/narcotics anonymous. A combination of psychotherapies along with the basic essence of 12 step program can bring greater outcomes in individual suffering from addiction.
Alcohol consumption is a common problem in our society. Ranging from economic issues, to strained relationships, to neglect, to abuse, it can lead to multiple problems. The key point is that in many people, it may go completely unnoticed. While different people could have different tolerance levels, there are some definitions to qualify someone as having ‘alcohol problem'.
Alcohol consumption resulting in blood alcohol levels of 0.08 or more; some men might need about five drinks and women might need four drinks to reach this level. When an individual is compelled to drink up to five drinks on a day regularly, it is considered to be a problem.
If you are suspecting that your friend or relative could be having a potential drinking problem, look out for the following symptoms:
What should you tell your friend/relative?
Admit the problem
It is a common belief that alcohol consumption is a social menace and is injurious to health. It is the third leading lifestyle causes of death in the United States and takes a toll on the health care costs of the country. Many organs like the liver, kidney, heart, and brain are affected in people who are addicted to alcohol. However, it has been proven that alcohol consumption in minor amounts can have beneficial effects on the human body including the heart.
The side effects depend on a number of factors listed below.
As the adage goes, anything in excess is bad. It is not necessary that a habitual or social drinker who consumes a drink or two per week would end up with these issues. In fact, if recent studies are to be believed, mild to moderate intake of alcohol does have a benefit to overall health.
Tips For Healthy Life
Psychologists and other researchers study the antecedents of substance use and how what we know about the human brain and its development can inform our understanding of why people use substances and how their use becomes problematic.
They often study specific types of alcohol and drug problems, their origins and effects, how these problems change over time, how they are distinct from or may overlap with other conditions and how they may interact with biological, social, behavioral and other cultural issues.
Prevention & treatment -
Psychologists and other professionals apply the findings of research to treat substance use in individual people, couples and whole families and may sometimes provide treatments to people brought together as a group or in a community.
They also may integrate more biological approaches, such as the use of medications, with social and behavioral treatments, work to motivate people to engage in the process of change, maintain long-term changes and even prevent the development of alcohol and drug problems in the first place.
Behavioral therapies for opioid use disorder -
That's a missed opportunity, experts argue, since evidence-based behavioral treatments used in concert with medication have the potential to make a real difference in long-term recovery" substance use is not just about biology. When someone comes into treatment for opioid use disorder, there's a lot of history that predates that, and a lot of things that happened when they were engaged in drug use" says Sharon Walsh, PhD, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky college of medicine who studies opioid use disorder and its treatment" it's critical for people to also have behavioral interventions as needed. You need to treat the whole person to get them well"
Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (eye-opener)?
If you answered Yes to at least 2 questions, then you may have a problem and require professional help.
Alcohol, tobacco and drugs; these are some of the most common substances that people can get addicted to. Getting addicted is easy but to get rid of your habit is hard.
Here are a few things that could help:
Treatment through Mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness involves two primary elements: focused attention and open monitoring. During the practice of focused attention, attention is concentrated on a sensory object (often the sensation of breathing) while one acknowledges and then stops from distracting thoughts and emotions. Focused attention practices are often preceded by the practice of open monitoring. Open monitoring is a metacognitive state of awareness in the sense that it involves monitoring the content of consciousness while reflecting back on the process or quality of consciousness itself. This form of mindfulness practice is thought to reduce anxiety to a larger extent.
Alcohol addiction commonly known as alcoholism is a fairly common problem that has shown to affect people from every walk of life. Scientists have tried to pinpoint the absolute cause behind alcoholism, but to no success. Certain factors like sex, genetic, and socioeconomic factors have shown to have some effect on alcoholism. The cause of alcoholism is never singular. Alcohol addiction is indeed a disease, where a person may not have full control over his actions and is seen to change the neurochemistry of the brain.
The symptoms of alcohol addiction can be seen in many ways and the severity of the situation varies from person to person. Other factors such as the frequency of consumption may also be specific. While some people are heavy drinkers and drink throughout the day; others may drink occasionally and remain sober for a few days.
A person who is dependent on alcohol will prioritise drinking over other essential activities and will eventually cause disruption in his social life, work or other areas of his life. It can also create a negative effect in the victim’s life along with their families and their near and dear ones.
What are the signs of alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse?
The signs and symptoms of alcoholism or addiction are rather conspicuous. Since drinking alcohol is common in social events in most cultures around the world, it becomes difficult to recognise when someone is addicted to alcohol, unlike drugs like cocaine and heroin.
The physical signs of alcohol abuse include:
How does alcohol affect the body?
Chronic abuse of alcohol can have negative effects on almost every part of your body and plays havoc in your system. Alcohol is liable to cause irreversible damage to several organs of the body which is vital for sustenance:
Alcoholism in itself can lead to several diseases like:
Reducing, limiting or stopping the intake of alcohol can be a bumpy road. Impossible as it may seem, it is possible to recover from alcoholism with proper care and support. Recovery being a gradual process, denial often plays a spoilsport. The first step is to accept that alcohol abuse is occurring and take the necessary steps to remedy it.
Here is a list of a few steps that the psychiatrist will suggest to get rid of alcoholism:
Binge drinking is a problem that has been noticed nowadays in many teenagers and youngsters. Whether it is at an event or a party, drinking high doses of alcohol in one sitting is known as binge drinking.
Binge Drinking in Women Is Different from Men
Binge drinking for men is the consumption of more than five alcoholic beverages in one sitting. But the case is different for women. For women binge drinking is defined as a woman consuming more than four alcoholic beverages in a single sitting. Also, it has been found in a survey that almost 75% of the binge drinkers are college students. Among these, the ratio of men is much higher than women.
What Leads to Binge Drinking?
Results of Binge Drinking
It becomes difficult to check how much alcohol will affect a person, because it depends on various factors, such as height, weight, age and also at times, alcohol tolerance of the person. But of course, there are some common results of binge drinking. Some of such results are:
When Is Help Required?
When the person has a habit of driving after drinking, neglecting family and doing harm to others as well, help is surely needed. Here, short 4-5 sessions with a therapist may help. A regular drinking habit is no doubt a reason to worry. But binge drinking is another reason that can lead to bigger problems and hence, needs to be examined closely too.