Addiction and Substance Use Disorder
Help begins with a simple conversation.
Addiction is a brain disease.
Addiction is a brain disease that deserves compassionate treatment just like any other disease. When someone has an addiction — also known as a substance use disorder — their brain and body are dependent on something. It isn’t a personal failure, and it isn’t something they can control. There are two main types of addictions:
The result of physical changes in the brain through the use of an addictive drug. Without that drug, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms.
The result of prolonged use of an addictive drug, causing an emotional need or a craving to continue using it.
What are the signs of addiction?
- Altered sleep habits
- Small or pinpoint pupils
- Dramatic weight changes
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Frequent colds or illnesses
- Itchy skin or unexplained cuts or scabs
- Leg cramps
- Poor hygiene
- A sense of desperation
- Changes in personality or friends
- School or work performance problems
- Out of or in need of money
- Nodding off or constant sleep problems
Stigma makes it harder to ask for help.
Society’s assumptions about people struggling with addiction is a huge barrier to getting help and overcoming a substance use disorder. When someone expects that they’ll be judged, ridiculed, or treated as lesser-than, they are less likely to seek help for their addiction. Unfortunately, these attitudes are far too common. Remember:
Addiction can happen to anyone.
In fact, some opioid addictions can result from misusing a drug prescribed by a health care provider.
Drug use changes the brain.
It becomes harder to resist temptation and harder to enjoy normal healthy activities like eating food or spending time with others.
Addiction is a treatable disease, not a character flaw.
It’s not as simple as resisting temptation and powering through withdrawal symptoms. Recovery may involve medication, therapy, or even rehab. It can be challenging, but it is possible.