What is addiction?
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.
Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
What’s the Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?
Addiction — or compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences — is characterized by an inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes (depending on the drug), tolerance and withdrawal.
The latter reflect physical dependence in which the body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal).
Physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many drugs—including many prescription drugs, even if taken as instructed. Thus, physical dependence in and of itself does not constitute addiction, but it often accompanies addiction.
This distinction can be difficult to discern, particularly with prescribed pain medications, for which the need for increasing dosages can represent tolerance or a worsening underlying problem, as opposed to the beginning of abuse or addiction.
We can help.
Our individualized assessment process lets us tailor treatment plans to the severity of each client’s substance or alcohol use.
We have the flexibility to recommend one treatment plan for a client who chronically misuses alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs — and a different treatment approach for someone who is functional yet experiencing negative consequences from problematic drug or alcohol use.