February 26, 2020
Not too long ago, addiction to drugs or alcohol was considered a character defect – a moral or spiritual weakness. People who abused either were told that they could quit if they just had enough willpower. And when they couldn’t end their addiction on their own, they and their families continued to be locked in a desperate and downward spiral.
Today, however, uncontrollable substance abuse in any form is viewed as a legitimate mental disorder – a medical disease, with diagnosable and treatable symptoms.
But what does that REALLY mean?
And more importantly, what does it mean for struggling teenage substance abusers and their families?
Addiction to alcohol or drugs – properly referred to as a substance abuse disorder – is when the continuing and uncontrollable use of intoxicating substance causes significant impairment in a person’s life.
Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease of the brain, involving the regions associated with memory, motivation, and reward. The disease causes biological alterations within the brain, which then manifest as changes in personality and alcohol/drug-seeking behaviors.
In other words, a person with an active addiction is not in control of their actions, because their brain has been “hijacked” by their disease.
Addiction is chronic, because there is no cure. However, just as is the case with other chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma, the symptoms of the disease can be managed. It is possible to live a full, healthy, and productive life, even with an addiction.
This is known as recovery.
Addiction is also progressive, meaning that without treatment and recovery, the disease almost invariably worsens, often resulting in severe disability or early death.
Per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is put out by the American Psychiatric Association, an addictive disorder diagnosis is probable when the person shows three or more of these symptoms:
The takeaway from this information is clear – addiction is a disease. There is no shame in having a legitimate medical condition, and seeking help for it.
Furthermore, the best way to manage the disease of addiction is through early intervention and effective, evidence-based treatment that focuses on the specific needs of the individual.
Teensavers Treatment Centers is the most-trusted resource for families and teens in crisis in Southern California. Located in Orange County for over 35 years, Teensavers has been transforming lives by helping young people overcome addictive and behavioral disorders.
If you or someone you care about needs help, contact Teensavers TODAY
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