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An addiction can ruin your life. It can make you sick, leaving you with AIDS (Read about "HIV / AIDS") or hepatitis. (Read about "Hepatitis B" "Hepatitis C") It can cost you your friends, your job, your home, your family. In short, an addiction, out of control, is one of the most expensive things that can happen to you.
Addiction can take many forms. You can find yourself hooked on drugs - illegal, prescription or even over the counter. You can be addicted to alcohol and suffer from alcoholism. (Read about "Alcoholism") You may be addicted to nicotine in the form of cigarettes, snuff or other types of smokeless tobacco. (Read about "Quit Smoking") You can even be addicted to things like gambling or shopping. Each addiction is different but they all have a few things in common, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The first step to ending any addiction is the same: detoxification. Depending on the severity of the addiction, it can require steps up to and including hospitalization. But detoxification isn't the end.
The National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) points out that changes take place in the brain of an addicted person. The addictive substance affects the brain functions and changes them, possibly forever. (Read about "The Brain") That is why detoxification is only the first step in treating addiction. People will continue to have a craving for their addiction and need other treatments and support to stay clean. They must also become aware of the types of things that can trigger addictive behavior, according to NIDA. These include:
There is no one treatment for everyone. Even while a person is undergoing detoxification it's important for other parts of the treatment to begin. There may be underlying medical or mental problems such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that needs to be addressed if the person is to remain clean. (Read about "Depressive Illnesses" "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder") There may be legal or vocational issues that have to be resolved for someone to move on with their lives. There is also a need to establish a support structure for the person. Most alcohol treatment programs have a component that includes Alcoholics Anonymous. Many drug programs are also adding support group components as well. Other behavioral therapies are also used to give addicts coping skills to deal with their addictions. Treatment however must be ongoing. Just getting clean doesn't solve the problem. Ongoing treatment is important. Many patients leave treatment prematurely and suffer serious relapses.
Research continues into the how's and why's of addiction. The hereditary implications are continuing to be investigated with more and more evidence that certain people have genes that make them susceptible to addictive behavior. There is also research into brain chemistry as a cause.
Treatments are constantly being worked on looking for new and better treatments for individuals including new medications that could help.
It is agreed though that the one best way to avoid addiction is to never start. Drug dependency starts with that first hit. Nicotine dependency starts with that first cigarette. Alcoholism starts with that first drink.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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