What is Addiction?
Addiction is using something to the point that it takes over your life. It can include substances (alcohol, illicit drugs) and/or behaviors (sex, shopping). It can cause harmful consequences. Some of these consequences include changes in how our brain functions, long-term debt, medical problems, relationship problems, etc. These changes can last long after the immediate effects of the intoxication. Addiction has four main parts, intoxication, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal.
Intoxication is the intense pleasure, calm, increased senses, and/or “high”.
Over time people with addiction build up a tolerance. Tolerance refers to needing larger amounts to feel intoxication.
Over more time people with addiction and high tolerance may develop dependence. This refers to needing more to avoid withdrawal. Dependence can be physiological and/or psychological.
Withdrawal is the body’s response to not having the amount it expects. In some cases, the body not only expects an amount, it physically needs it. This is one way addiction can be fatal. There can be physiological and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of addiction are grouped into four categories:
- Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control use
- Social problems: use causes failure to complete major tasks at work, school or home; activities are given up or cut back because of use
- Risky use: use happens in risky settings; there is continued use despite known problems
- Drug effects: tolerance; withdrawal symptoms
How many people are affected?
- Addiction is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death.
- Over 20 million people battle it each year in the United States.
- Drug abuse and addiction cost the United States more than 740 billion dollars annually. This is distributed in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.
- Geneticsaccount for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.
- Environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk (peer influences, poor academic achievement).
- Teenagers and people with mental health disorders are more at risk for addictions than other populations.
Treatment for Addiction
Because addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life, many types of treatment are often required. Treatment approaches that address a person’s situation and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric and social problems can lead to sustained recovery.
Medications can be used to control drug cravings and relieve symptoms of withdrawal. Therapy can help addicted individuals understand their behavior and problem solve. Treatment may also include:
- Therapeutic communities (12 Step Programs)
- Outpatient programs
CBT for Addiction
Our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program for Addiction involves helping clients see the signs that lead to use. We also help clients find other ways of avoiding and/or coping (dealing) with triggers. Triggers are situations that may involve cravings to use.
Behavioral experiments are exercises that test negative thoughts. Positive thoughts are tested as well to see which thoughts are accurate. An example of a behavioral experiment is to try getting support from a friend rather than isolating in addiction.
Changing automatic negative thoughts is an important part of recovery from addiction. Our program aims to gather evidence disproving those thoughts. The goal is to help people have more balanced thinking.
This technique involves making a weekly list of healthy, fun activities to break up daily routines. These tasks should be simple and easy to perform while encouraging positive emotions. Scheduling these pleasant activities helps reduce negative automatic thoughts and the subsequent need to use.
Exposure is often part of our addiction program. Confronting negative feelings is often necessary with i. This exposure reduces the anxiety caused by negative feelings over time.