Addiction is a chronic brain disease that can affect anyone, regardless of their character or moral standing. Science has confirmed that addiction is a real and serious condition, yet there is still a popular belief that it is the result of weak character or moral failure. We must consider addiction in the same way we view other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Drug and alcohol addiction can be deadly, but there are also many unhealthy addictions.
This begs the question: are there any healthy addictions? The answer is not as clear as you might think. Addiction involves longing for something intensely, losing control over its use, and continuing to engage with it despite adverse consequences. When someone becomes addicted to a substance, the normal wiring of useful brain processes can start working against them. Fortunately, researchers know more about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.
People who are recovering from addiction will be at risk of relapse for years and possibly throughout their lives. Drugs and addictive behaviors provide a shortcut, flooding the brain with dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Escaping the clutches of addiction is another can of worms, but the point is that you can have an addiction or a good habit. The sex addict can suffer very similar consequences as he loses relationships, cannot connect emotionally with people, spend a lot on sexual activities, and also develop sexually transmitted diseases. The “positive addicts” would be seen morally laudable, while the rest of us would still be painted with the brush of moral guilt.
Researchers have discovered that much of the power of addiction lies in its ability to hijack and even destroy key regions of the brain that are meant to help us survive. Whether something becomes an addiction depends on whether it is causing negative consequences in your life. Substance abuse treatment works by helping people to understand their addiction and how to manage it. Family interventions can be a first step to recovery, and there are ways to help children from families affected by alcohol and drug abuse. It's important to remember that addiction has always been a disease, even when our healthcare systems were more hostile to the idea. Addiction is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly.
It's important to get help if you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction. With proper treatment and support, it is possible to recover from addiction and lead a productive life.