“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom. ” Edgar Allan Poe Since time began, the mystery of addiction remains. Our forbears, scientists, professionals, user’s, family, friends and society in general still struggled to grasp concepts of addiction. What causes it? Is it inherited, psychological, a social problem?
Is it a disease or a characteristic flaw? Is the drug itself the problem? Does the individual’s environment, vulnerability or behavior play a role? Which begs the question what is addiction? Scientific researchers over the past twenty years have successfully to a great extent demystified the question of what is addiction. Thanks to the groundbreaking advancement in technology, we know addiction is a multi-faceted, complex condition with roots in the biology, environment, behavior, culture and social factors. We know addiction or sometimes eferred to as a dependency usually refers to the use, misuse, and/or abuse of drug, including alcohol.
While others make a distinction between ‘addiction’ and ‘dependency’ my decision to use the term ‘addiction abuse’ instead of ‘dependency’ is I want this to be easy for you to grasp. It is important for you to know this information hopefully before your addiction gets out of control; or upon entering the recovery process. The misdiagnoses between a mental health disorder and addiction are very common, knowledge is power and applied knowledge could be the difference between a life founded on sobriety, uined by active addiction, or misdiagnosed with a disorder you don’t have.
Bearing that in mind the layout of this chapter is in Section 1, we look to science to define what an two sections. addiction is, types and categories of addiction and the models of Section 2 takes in the physical and psychological symptoms, characteristics of addictions, three stages of addiction, and abstinence plus key pointers of addiction. addiction. Section 1 What Is Addiction? Let’s begin with the definitions of addiction. Definitions of Addiction First up you need to know the definitions of addiction vary reatly.
Few, if any fall into a neat and easily accepted classification system, thus increasing the risk of misdiagnoses. Listed in no order of importance, let’s start with the following: American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Dr. Michael Miller, past president of ASAM who oversaw the development of a four-year research study involving more than 80 experts the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) presented this definition of addiction, and I quote: “At its core, addiction isn’t just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem.
It’s a brain problem whose behaviors anifest in all these other areas, Many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems and sometimes criminal acts. But the disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions. ” http://www. livescience. com/ 15563-addiction-defined-brain-disease. html The Dictionary. Com definition is: “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. ” http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/addiction Online Medical Dictionary.
Com definition is: “The observable, measurable, and often pathological activity of an organism that portrays its inability to overcome a habit resulting in an insatiable craving for a substance or for performing certain acts. The addictive behaviour includes the emotional and physical overdependence on the object of habit in increasing amount or frequency”. http://www. online-medical- dictionary. org/definitions-a/addictive-behavior. html World Health Organization’s definition is: “A pathological relationship to ANY mood altering substance, ehaviour, event, or thing that has life damaging consequences” http://www. ho. int/substance_abuse/right_committee/en/ index. html Brain Disease Definition Please note the Brain Disease definition will be discussed in greater depth under the heading of Models of Addiction.
That said, Alan I. Leshner, former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Nora Volkow, current director of NIDA deserve to be credited for the definition below: “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug (alcohol) seeking and use, espite harmful consequences.
It is considered a brain disease because drugs [alcohol] change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors. ” http://www. drugabuse. gov/publications/media- guide/science-drug-abuse-addiction Categories of Addiction 1. Physical addiction 2. Psychological addiction Characteristics of Addiction Addiction is characterized by cycles relapse and or recovery, cravings, diminished control, behavioral problems, interpersonal elationship difficulties and inability to recognize dysfunctional emotional responses, their “own behavior and or their addiction.
More will be discussed as we proceed further. Common Traits of Addiction The list below includes a few of the many traits common to any type of addiction. Often these traits are acted out as a way to protect his/her right to defend his/her addiction and should not be taken personally by family members, friends or other.
More often than not they arise from fear of another person applying pressure for them to cease using. They include: • Not telling the truth, i. e. I have this under control” • Manipulating reality, i. e. “You don’t want me to have fun” • Blaming others, i. e. “It’s your fault I’m this way, if you treated me better l’d be different” Refuse to accept personal responsibility for their thought, feeling and actions • Emotionally immature: i. e. throws tantrums • Spend less time with family, friends and Experience drink/drug related blackouts i. e. emory loss
• Experience low self-esteem work Live in a world of illusion, delusions and denial Many experience child sexual abuse, physically battered, neglected, or badly-treated Types of Addictions Alcohol dependency Drug dependency Compulsive behaviors (i. e. Gambling, sex, over/under eating, exercise and shopping) • Poly-addiction = using more than one addiction simultaneously at a time Legal Drugs Alcohol, prescribed medications for example benzodiazepines, painkillers, sedatives; nicotine, methadone, caffeine, energy drinks and anabolic steroids.
Illegal Drugs Amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogen and LSD Behavioral Addictions Gambling addiction, sex addiction, food addiction, work addiction, shopping addiction, credit card addiction, computer ddiction, gaming addiction, internet addiction, pornography addiction, love addiction or avoidance addictions to name a few %3D of the many.
Models of Addiction The Moral Model With its roots firmly planted in ancient, social and religious belief systems the moral model of addiction viewed those struggling with or trying to recover from a severe or fatal addiction as failing to do what’s right, morally. The cause of their problem stemmed from a major character flaw and/or moral weakness. The moral model is traditional with the approach that he/she needs to get a back bone, resist temptation by strengthening is/her will power and simply just get on with life. If only it could be that easy.
The major problem with this model is its focus on the individual’s ability to exercise his/her will power, make better choices, decisions and effort not to engage in using. Then, but not so much today, religious institutions viewed these unfortunate human beings as immoral, undisciplined, insensitive and ignorant, therefore morally weak. The alcoholic/ addict was referred to then, as still by some to be the “rotten or bad apple” of the group. Unfortunately, the stigma of addiction, hen and now is why many fail to seek treatment.
Thanks to the groundbreaking research studies, we realize an addiction is a medical condition, not a moral issue as first believed, which requires treatment, sooner than later. Behavioral Model It is clear those behaviours like gambling, work, pornography; shopping and other activities are problematic to people’s lives. Therefore, defining compulsive behaviour must include engaging in excessive substance abuse, activities, objects or behaviour to the extent the user’s primary focus results in the exclusion of others.
The consequences of behavior may initiate physical, psychological, social or spiritual causing direct or indirect harm to them or others. For example a gambler is forced to lie, steal, borrow or sell other people’s property in order to pay off his/her gambling debts. It is important to realize the above brain disease definition does not relate only to substance abuse, but it embraces other addictions defined as a compulsive behavior or “impulse control disorders. Brain Disease Model In 1997, the former head of NIDA, Alan I.
Leshner published an “Addiction Is a Brain Disease, It Matters” where he clarifies certain characteristics of a drug addict (alcohol) as the “Uncontrollable compulsive drug cravings, seeking and use even in the face of negative health and social consequences [that] interferes with, if not destroys, an individual’s functioning in the family and in society…. long after the individual stops using” Leshner, (2001). In addiction when referring to the recovering addict/(alcoholic) he has this to say, “Very few people are able to return to occasional use after becoming addicted” Leshner, (2001).
Leshner and his colleagues discover the direct effects on the brain were caused by excessive abuse of drugs, cause brain shrinkage in the cortex of the frontal lobe. The cortex of the frontal lobe is responsible for higher intellectual functions including: • Conscious thought • Personality • Voluntary movement • Planning • Organization • Decision making • Judgments • Behavioral choices • Motivation Thus, limiting the brain’s communication system located in the frontal lobe of the brain by: •Imitating the brain’s chemical messengers • The Overstimulating brain’s’ reward circuit’ causing an imbalance to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Impairment of the cortex of the frontal lobe seriously impacts on a person’s ability to function as normal, which results in the following: • Poor judgments and poor decision making • Lack of attention • Loss of motivation • Problems with planning, organizing, and reasoning • Behavioural changes • Personality changes • Problems of distortion of cognitive and emotional functioning, causing “uncontrollable, compulsive drug cravings, seeking and use” • Inability to focus on anything else other than getting their next drink, hit, or fix.
Consequences of an Addicted Brain • Impulse control • Short term memory loss • Difficulty in making daily decisions • Blackouts • Attention control (struggle to focus) leading to compulsive cravings and seeking • Inability to concentrate or make “good” or healthy judgement calls • Inability to learn life’s lessons (learn from mistakes repeated behavior) • Slow response time, delayed reflexes (car accidents) • Poor balance, clumsiness and poor behavior control • Loss of freedom of choice. i. e. ants to stop, but can’t stay stopped •A diseased brain dictates its “own” feeding frenzy The user struggles to resist the impulse to drink/drug • Can’t guarantee behavior
• Unable to guarantee reversal of brain functioning abilities Moreover, with the advent of modern neuroimaging technology, including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), science has discovered a direct link to other addictions the impairment of the brain’s structural and functioning abilities of the user, for example · Eating disorders • Compulsive gambling • Abnormal social behavior Other schools of thought include the imbalance and/or deficient neurotransmitters in the brain caused by nutritional deficiencies, allergies, hypoglycemic, environmental trauma, child abuse, domestic violence, and chronic stress, to name a few of the many. In no order of importance, below is a compiled list of possible consequences of an addicted brain.
Unanswered Questions- Answered When I first learnt about the brain disease model many of those unanswered questions were answered to my full satisfaction. Finally, I understood the meaning of an “End of the line alcoholic/drug addict” it means physical and psychological dependency. Put another way, the consequences of living with an addicted brain. Also, I desperately wanted to stop I couldn’t. My now addicted brain had “developed a life of its own” separate to my individual self. Perhaps this is the same for you? Not All People Are Addicted The good news is, not everyone who drinks; takes drugs or acts out will become an alcoholic, drug addict or an addict.
We’re all different. A heavy drinker does not automatically become an alcoholic. A recreational drug user will not always get “hooked” on illicit or prescribed drugs. A conscientious worker may not become a work addict. Some common differences, include a social drinkers may have one drink and put the cork back in the bottle, the alcoholic will drink the whole bottle plus the leftovers. Recreational drug users say no to more than one joint, the drug addict is incapable of saying no or stopping at one. The non-gambler will put five dollars in the pokies every now and again; the gambler instead of paying the rent will put his/her full pay packet through the pokies.
Of course, there are other examples, but understand the following: •It is not what is used • Or how much a person uses • Or when they use It is more about the underlying cause or contributing factors for using than the amount consumed that determines if a person becomes addicted or not. Let’s now move to section two, which includes physical and psychological symptoms of addiction, progress of addiction, why abstinence works best and key pointers of addiction. You may be thinking that’s a lot to think about – you’re right of course. Don’t concern yourself, time is on your side, so in order to make sense of it all do it at your own pace. See you in the next chapter…