What is addiction?
In the past addiction was thought of as being a failure of will power or as a character flaw in the addicted individual. However, we nowÂ know that addiction is actually a disease with psychological and social aspects. People with an addiction do not have control over what theyÂ are doing or using. The disease of addiction manifests itself in many ways, whether drugs, alcohol or unhealthy relationships - addictiveÂ behaviours are all symptomatic of the underlying condition.
Many people drink alcohol or may experiment with drugs without becoming addicts. There is a difference between a habit and an addiction.
A habit is done by choice. The person with the habit can choose to stop, and can successfully choose not to resume their habit. TheÂ psychological and physical component is not an issue as it is with an addiction.
The disease of addiction
Addiction is a progressive disease, meaning that it becomes worse over time. Eventually, addiction will reach a point at which it is noÂ longer manageable and it becomes harmful to the addict and possibly those around them.
Addicts usually experience emotional problems or difficulty coping with their lives. Taking drugs, self-harm or other compulsive behavioursÂ are ways of dealing with emotional conflict or turmoil.
Unfortunately, like any chronic disease, there is no quick-fix cure for addiction. However, addiction can be treated and managed over time,Â allowing addicts to integrate back into society and lead normal lives.
In order to help addicts achieve long-term recovery, treatment helps them deal with the underlying issues that cause addiction.
For most addiction treatment centres, this involves a combination of group and individual counselling, working a 12-Step programme as wellÂ as integration with a healthy diet and a regular exercise programme.
Because there is no quick-fix treatment for addiction, successful treatment is usually intensive and takes place over an extended period ofÂ time. Addicts need to learn positive behaviours and discover how to cope with day-to-day issues. Healing emotional trauma and psychologicalÂ pain is a complex process that that should be undertaken by trained professionals.
After a stay at a treatment centre, recovering addicts are either advised to spend some time in a secondary or tertiary care facility whereÂ they will still receive regular support and structure. Once an individual leaves these facilities, they are encouraged to regularly attendÂ meetings and work a 12-Step Programme.
Getting help for addiction
Addiction is not a failure of willpower or a moral shortcoming. Addictive behaviours are symptomatic of deeper problems which need to beÂ addressed in order to understand and manage the addictive behaviour.
While holistic in-patient treatment for addiction, that which focuses on both counselling and advocating a healthy lifestyle, has been shownÂ to be the most effective method for treating addiction, it should be noted that addiction cannot be cured. It can however be treated,Â
arrested and managed. The objective of addiction recovery programmes is to equip clients with the tools they need to lead productive, cleanÂ lives once they leave the treatment centre.