understand addiction

To understand addiction is a complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Many of us struggle with addiction at some point in our lives. Understanding addiction as a disease that is treatable gives us a sense of inner peace, even if we don't fully understand why it happens. This article explores the disease concept of addiction, and some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments of addiction.

Is Addiction A Disease?

The first question that needs to be addressed is whether addiction can be classified as a disease. There is some debate among experts as to whether addiction should be considered a disease. Some argue that it is not because it does not cause long term damage to the body. Others say that it is because people who suffer from addiction often experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking drugs.

There are many definitions of disease, but for the purposes of this article I will use the World Health Organization’s definition: “a broad category that includes any disorder with harmful consequences for an individual”.

Addiction has harmful consequences for those who are struggling with its use: it can destroy relationships and marriages; lead to homelessness; result in loss of employment…

Read more: How To Understand Addiction And Find Inner Peace

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social connectedness

Social connectedness is what I feel is the key to a life of recovery from addiction. Social connectedness is that which holds us, as a society, together in support of each other. We function as a group of individuals in our ability to sense and believe in social connectedness. But what happens when I lose that sense of connectedness? What happens when society chooses not to allow some people to regain their connectedness?

Social connectedness is an issue I've seen during the past 20 years I've witnessed the disease of addiction manifest itself in many people, thousands probably.The textbooks and courses I studied were beneficial in theory. Those with whom I counseled taught me everything about what addiction means to them. They taught me why they're addicted, what makes it so challenging to live a life of recovery, and why is it so difficult to stop doing what they're doing.

Willpower Alone

As I begin this reflection on my understanding of addiction, let's start with a pet peeve of mine. Through the years many people have questioned me "why don't they just stop?" Let's think through this question for a moment. Of the thousands of people that I've dealt with…

Read more: Social Connectedness And Addiction: The Unparalleled Key To Success

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treatment on demand

Treatment on demand for drug addiction is not a reality in most places of the USA, yet cities like Baltimore could save over $46 million if everyone who wanted treatment received treatment. Unlike other illnesses, those suffering from drug addiction are turned away from treatment centers or forced to travel hundreds of miles to acquire treatment. There is no better solution to this opioid crisis than that of treatment on demand. 

On July 11, 2019, I was interviewed on DC’s WUSA9 to talk about the opioid crisis and my opinion for its solution treatment on demand. The video is posted below. Most of us are well aware of the opioid crisis in the USA.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 (67.8% of all drug overdose deaths). As an addiction counselor of over 20 years, I’ve written from the perspective of what society, as well as families, can do about this crisis. 

Now it’s time to write about a solution to this crisis, which I know will work, namely, treatment on demand

I don’t write this out of a naive ignorance to the societal factors and big business practices…

Read more: Treatment On Demand For Drug Addiction Is The Solution

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trauma and addiction

Trauma and addiction tend to go hand in hand. As a disease, substance dependency (addiction) finds it’s origin in past trauma. Understanding that people struggling with addiction as a disease and are most likely victims of trauma, maybe we can be compassionate towards them. Recovery is possible if we treat the root of the disease, not just the symptoms.

Through the decades of working with clients, who struggle with trauma and addiction for their freedom through recovery I have learned that more often than not, they are also running from past life memories of traumatic experiences. They lack strong coping skills, therefore turning to avoidance rather than dealing with life’s issues head-on.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that more than a third of adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect will have a substance use disorder before they reach their 18th birthday (Behavioural consequences of child abuse ). The reality of trauma is that it can come from anywhere and manifest in a variety of physical and psychological symptoms.

What do I mean when I write the word trauma? When a person fears for their safety, experiences intense pain, or witnesses a tragic or violent act, that person…

Read more: Trauma And Addiction: How To Be Compassionate

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opioid epidemic

The blame game is alive and well, but we need to stop blaming others. The opioid epidemic grows while we as a society are blaming others and judging those who are addicted to the opioid drugs. We must work together for a viable resolution to this epidemic, and here are my suggestions.

It appears to be human nature for us to want to find a reason, cause, or another person to blame for something that has happened to us or to a loved one. Think of how easy it is for us to throw blame around when we are caught practically red-handed in an act. How did we learn this?

The blame game has been with us since our earliest days of childhood. As a child, we tried the excuse that someone else made me do it to see if that excuse would work. Depending on your childhood it had varying success, yet any time that it worked we learned that blaming was a viable excuse. As we've grown into adulthood many of us continue to use this excuse.

Many of my clients want to find who is to blame for the way they are today. They are convinced that if…

Read more: How To Stop Blaming Others For The Opioid Epidemic

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