Addiction is a difficult thing for anyone to deal with.

Even if you’re not experiencing the signs yourself, you might be witnessing someone that you love going through things like alcohol or prescription drug dependence.

Contrary to popular opinion, addiction isn’t necessarily a sign of poor coping skills. Sometimes, addiction comes from mental disorders or trauma that has led to substance dependence. Just like with any mental health issue, addiction to any substance requires the right treatment.

If you have an issue with alcohol or substance abuse, getting the right support from a mental health provider can help you overcome your disorder, and avoid a relapse. The first step to success is finding the right source of support.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is often difficult to understand. It often begins with compulsive behavior or addictive behaviors that perpetuate an issue. Some people suffer from cravings, while others experience issues with depression that harm their coping skills and make them feel as though they need to rely on substances for support. It’s is about how you crave a certain substance or behavior, particularly if it creates a “reward,” and a lack of concern over consequences.

What are some examples of addictive behaviors?

Someone experience alcohol addiction or issues with drug abuse will often:

  • Display a lack of self-control
  • Be unable to stay away from the addictive substance
  • Have an increased desire for the behavior or substance
  • Dismiss the way that their behavior is causing problems
  • Lack of an emotional response

Over time, addictions can significantly interfere with your life. People who are experiencing addiction may often cycle between mild and intense use of their addictive substance. Despite these cycles, addictions often worsen over time, leading to permanent health issues, problems with relationships, and more.

What are the Types of Addiction?

If you’re addicted to alcohol, drugs, or medications, you may be experiencing a kind of mental illness. According to the Action on Addiction Group, 1 in 3 people around the world has shows addictive behaviors.

Instead, symptoms can also arise with behaviors. Some people who attempt to stop their addictive behaviors even experience withdrawal symptoms. This is often the case for alcohol abuse and opioid addiction.

Some people are addicted to THC, which is found in marijuana, while others have an opioid use disorder that comes from prescription medications. Recovery starts with figuring out the source of your addiction, from heroin to alcohol, and finding a solution.

Other substances and behaviors that might trigger an addictive behaviors can also include porn, gambling, caffeine, food, technology, work, and sex. Currently, although the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t recognize sex, technology, and work addictions, they are often treated by psychologists.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

Most signs of addiction relate to a person’s inability to control themselves. This could include social behaviors that involve seeking out situations that will expose them to more of a substance or behavior. People with addictions change their behaviors, using things like increased secrecy to hide their cravings.

The addicted person won’t stop their behavior, even if they recognize the problems the issue is causing. In some cases, this also means that these people display a lack of control, using more of a substance than necessary.

Some people blame other factors for their problems, and experience increased levels of anxiety, depression, and sadness. They have trouble identifying feelings, trouble telling the difference between feelings and physical sensations, and unrealistic assessments of the consequences of using addictive substances.

What Causes Addiction?

Addictive substances and behaviors sometimes create a pleasurable “high” that’s both psychological and physical. You’ll typically engage in more behaviors for longer over time to achieve the same high in the future. Eventually, the substance or behavior becomes difficult to stop.

Some people might try a substance or behavior, and they never approach it or need it again. Others will approach that behavior once or twice in the future, but there won’t be any cravings or symptoms of withdrawal without it. Other people become addicted, partly because of the frontal lobes of the brain. The front lobe allows people to delay feelings of reward or gratification. However, the frontal lobe doesn’t work properly with the addicted person, and gratification is instant.

Other parts of the brain can play a role. The nucleus accumbens and the cingulate cortex can change the way you respond to addictive behaviors and substances. Other possible causes of addiction can include chemical imbalances in the brain. Some people have mental health disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that can lead to coping strategies that become addictions.

Experts sometimes believe that repeated and regular exposure to addictive behaviors and substances often play a role. Sometimes, even genetics might increase the likelihood of addiction by as much as 50%, according to the American Society for addiction medicine.

Environment or culture can also play a role in how people respond to behaviors and substances. A lack of social support systems might lead to behavioral or substance addiction. Traumatic experiences that affect coping options can also prompt more addictive behaviors in the future.

Stages and Treatment Programs

Addiction usually plays out in stages. The body and brain’s reactions to a substance or behavior at the early stages are different from reactions during the later stages. The initial stages of addiction start with experimentation. After that, you might use behavior or substance regularly, often in social situations.

It begins to become a more significant problem when people use or engage in a behavior in a way that disregards consequences. You might find that you begin to use the behavior daily, or several times each day, despite the possible consequences.

The good news is that no matter how bad your substance abuse disorder or drug abuse is, all types of addiction are treatable. The best plans for substance abuse treatment will be comprehensive. Addiction can affect many areas of life. Treatments focus on helping you stop seeking and engaging in their addiction.

Common therapies will include medications for mental health disorders like depression, psychotherapy, and behavioral, talk, or self-help groups. Medical services to help treat serious complications of addictions might be necessary, too, like withdrawal during detox.

There’s also inpatient treatment available, and the option to work with a case manager to coordinate ongoing treatment.

Getting the Right Treatment

Outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment are both available. The definition of addiction can often be hard to define for a lot of people. It doesn’t always lead to drug addiction or drug rehab. Sometimes, alcoholism treatment and addiction treatment starts with outpatient conversations.

Within the early stages of addiction, doctors might recommend initial medication and therapy. During later stages of addiction, when a risk of overdose deaths and physical dependence is more significant, your doctor might suggest a more controlled setting to help with addiction.