Some are physically addicted and others are psychologically addicted
by Ned Wicker
There is ALWAYS hope!
Who gets addicted? Sounds like a silly question, but it’s an important one. What is your addiction? Is it a substance like alcohol or double cheeseburgers? Is it gambling, or professional success? Is it athletic activities, or is it indulging in some creature comfort?
All of us are Body, Mind, and Spirit
To understand types of addiction, we need to accept the fact we are all body, mind and spirit, and all three aspects of the human condition come into play when discussing the subject of addiction. If you accept that fact, then you can understand that addiction is as much about the spirit as it is about the mind and body.
That is why Alcoholics Anonymous came to the conclusion in the 1930’s that a spiritual solution was necessary to overcome the addiction to alcohol. Addiction is a chronic condition, a disease of the brain, which manifests itself in a variety of physical ways to be sure, but there is no cure. Other chronic diseases have their own physical characteristics, but addiction really does involve the entire person.
Brain is tricked
In order for addiction to develop, the brain has to be tricked into thinking that it needs a substance in order to function “normally,” and the absence of that substance is cause for alarm. For example, one of the criteria for addiction is dependence.
Something might not necessarily be physically addictive, but psychologically addictive. That is the brain wanting the drug. You’ve often heard someone say, “I need a drink,” in response to a difficult situation. That’s an example. They think they need the drink in order to calm themselves and collect their thoughts. Some types of addiction trick the brain more than others.
That would also serve as an example of drug abuse, which is making a conscious decision to use a drug inappropriately. While it is not uncommon for people to take a drink, if that drink becomes “necessary” or if taking the drink is a prerequisite to action, that’s abuse. You should be able to cope with stress and solve your problems without the drug.
What is abuse?
Let’s back up for a second. Abuse is using the drug for something other than its intended legal or medicinal purpose. Having a drink is fine, getting drunk is not a good choice. Taking Vicodin as prescribed by your physician will help you deal with pain, but taking too many pills, or taking them too often, is abuse.
Addiction, on the other hand, is not being able to make that choice whether or not to take the drug. Addicts must take the drug. They might say they can quit, they might even claim they are cutting down, but in truth they can’t.
So, abuse is making a bad choice. Addiction is when you lose the ability to choose. That is why addicts can literally use until they overdose, or until their bodies quit. My friend Joe Herzanek, author of “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” calls it suicide by the installment plan.Many types of addiction lead death.
Tolerance and/or withdrawal, using more than intended
Regardless of the type of addiction, three or more of the following must be in play for the person to be considered “addicted”: tolerance, withdrawal, using the substance for longer periods and in amounts greater than intended, much time spent trying to obtain the substance, sacrifice of social or recreational or occupational activities in order to use the drug, continued use despite knowing problems caused by the substance, inability to stop. Need more and more of the drug
When people take a drug over a period of time they can develop a tolerance to it, meaning that they will need to use more to achieve the same effect. This brain dis-regulation clouds judgment and accounts for why addicts can’t stop “cold turkey” on their own without help.
Types of addiction that cause physical addiction is when the body needs the drug to feel “normal” and if the person does not get the drug, they suffer withdrawal symptoms. An alcoholic might need to take a drink the first thing in the morning, because they feel “sick.” Cocaine addicts crave their drug of choice, a desire so intense that they will sometimes do whatever is necessary to get it, regardless of the consequences. They can’t just quit, they need to use their drug.
Addictions can be impulsive behaviors
Some addictions are compulsive behaviors. They don’t require a substance. For example, gambling, or computer games, or pornography or “shop till you drop.” Granted, some of these are regular behaviors, but people will always push the limits of any behavior, so they suddenly find themselves in trouble and can’t quit.
Treatment does help!
Regardless of type, addictions can be treated and there are treatment centers for just about any condition. The sad reality is that addicts may not want treatment. They may think they can control their behaviors, or offer their own solutions, or they just don’t think they have a problem at all. Because we are body, mind and spirit, and because we are all inter connected, addiction is a family disease.
Think of it, addiction impacts every member of the family and because of that all members of the family need treatment, not just the addict. In order to recover, addicts need not only treatment, but the right kind of support to help them live a healthy and productive life.
There is always hope.
Whether it is a psychological addiction, or a physical addiction, there is treatment and hope. People do recover and enjoy life regardless of the types of addiction.