Article 6 - What is Addiction
WHAT IS ADDICTION?
What Addiction is NOT: Weak morals; character defect; poor self-discipline; bad behavior.
Addiction is a chronic illness, like diabetes, which must be understood – by both addict and family – and managed on a lifelong basis.
What is the nature of this illness ? The essence of addiction is the inability to consistently control the use of mood- and mind-altering substances. Non-addicts can have a glass of wine, or even use a drug if occasionally offered at a party. An addict is likely to use more than planned, and use in a self-damaging way, whenever taking substances.
It is a progressive illness - the amounts used, and the consequences of using, increase over time. Using alcohol or other drugs becomes a priority over other responsibilities and people in the addict’s life.
Who suffers from this illness ? Anyone - it does not result from living in a specific community. Negative life experiences can contribute to early experimentation with drugs, but are not a cause of addiction. There appears to sometimes be a genetic link, but there are also many addicts with no family background of addiction.
What can be done ? Addiction is a lifelong illness - addicts cannot learn a way to use drugs or alcohol successfully. They can however learn to manage the illness successfully, and lead rich and rewarding lives by staying completely drug-free. A professional program is a good place to start, followed by an ongoing 12-step support program, e.g. Narcotic Anonymous.
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