About Addiction

What is drug addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain-they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.” According to Drs. N. Volkaw and H. Schelbert, “addiction is similar to other diseases such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of the underlying organ, have serious harmful consequences, are preventable, treatable, and if left untreated can last a lifetime.” Dr. Avram Goldstein sums up addiction beautifully in his book entitled Addiction: From Biology to Drug Policy when he says, “addiction is the compulsive, self destructive, chronic self administration of a mood altering drug.”

The greatest discovery about alcohol/drug addiction in the past 20 years is that is has a biological component – it is a disease that expresses itself behaviorally. The biological component is that alcohol is a depressant, a mood altering substance and an anesthetic drug. Some people call it “liquid courage” or “liquid mysticism”; that’s why alcohol is called “spirits.”

There is no single factor that you can point to that will determine whether or not a person will become addicted. Genetics, developmental stage, surrounding social environment, i.e. home, school, friends, and neighborhood all play a part. NIDA states that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60% of how vulnerable a person may be to the disease of addiction.

One of the biggest drivers of addiction is shame: the feeling that “I am not good enough.” Shame is full of need, expectations, obligations, conditions, needs to control, always seeing flaws and limits. As addicts we do not want to hear our inner voice and so we distract ourselves with noise. The noise can be negative self talk, a chemical, the feeling of shame…

Addiction is a chronic disease that can be treated and managed successfully. Huge strides have been made in drug abuse treatment, treating people in a holistic way. The whole person is taken into consideration, their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being as well as their vocational, social and legal needs.

For help with overcoming addiction, please visit our Recovery Resources page. 

To contact Eliza Duncan for speaking engagements concerning Overcoming and Understanding Addiction, please call (713) 463-9198 phone or email elizad@elizaduncan.com.

"Every wall is a door."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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