What is Addiction?
It is seeking escape with the desperation of a drowning man. What seemed at first to be a flimsy reed to hang onto proved to be too powerful to stop.
Using is like your air. You feel like you are suffocating until you get your relief.
Addiction is like having a plastic bag placed over your head and tied. You feel intense relief when the bag is pulled off. You open your mouth, air comes in and the weight is off the chest. For now, you are ok.
The physiological symptoms are all powerful, leading the user to do “whatever it takes.” Addiction definitions are as wide in scope as the definition of the “best dessert.” Definitions are as different as coming from different sources and experts. Essentially, it is a chronic disorder, compulsive in nature, leading to a loss of control, affecting the person physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically.
ASAMS (American Society of Addiction Medicine) states “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
What does this translate to? A person with a substance use disorder
- Addiction is when you cannot stop, control, or manage the substance or process.
- It affects your behaviors, choices, and decisions
- Addiction is chronic and may be relapsing.
- Addiction creates a new lifestyle.
- You literally crave the substance or process and the thoughts to experience overwhelm you.
- You begin to lose control of your life.
- Using becomes your “new norm.”
- It affects you emotionally.
- All those things in life once valued become less valued and are not considered.
- You seek pleasure as your ability to feel emotions is gone. You used to feel normal, to get through the next few hours.
- It is anxiety, paranoia, anger, depressed mood, and having a sense of worthlessness that haunts you.
- You are so preoccupied with feeling your normal, that seeking relief becomes your goal and drive for the day.
- Your brain is drastically affected.
- You seek reward, judgment goes out the window, and you become highly impulsive.
To try and place the disorder into one specific category would be similar to sending everyone with an addiction issue to the same rehab center and treating all of these patients with the same treatment plan, whether or not they have a substance addiction, process addiction, or even a dual diagnosis.
The unmet mental health needs in our population show up with social consequences: more homelessness, incarceration, more people visiting the ER in crisis stages, suicide, addiction, and trauma and violence.
The Military Veterans have a storm within the sea of mental health issues. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) is a diagnosable psychiatric condition.
For too long, if a wound did not show itself, it was not real
We know that PTSD is a profound disorder affecting millions. We generally hear of people diagnosed with co-occurring disorders, that of a mental health issue and substance abuse. With many of our veterans and healing helpers such as firemen, police officers, their needs are unmet.