By definition, an addiction is described as being abnormally tolerant or dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming. Addictions come in many forms, from substance abuse addiction to behavior addictions, all of which may require intervention or professional treatment to overcome. As addictions have changed and redeveloped over time, programs have had to progressively change and modify approaches as well. In fact, while addiction trends have changed in the last three decades with some becoming more problematic than others, more help is available for overcoming addiction than ever before.
Though alcohol dependency has been a constant addiction recognized for many years, in the mid-1970s, illicit drug use and addiction peaked to a point almost rivaling that of alcohol. Illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroine, and marijuana were the primary source of drug addictions until the 1990s. At this point, illicit drugs that were more cheaply made and acquired, like meth, became a growing trend.
Marijuana dependency and addiction is a source of interest in both the medical and political sectors today. As more states explore the legalization and government control of marijuana for medical purposes and even recreational use, the potential for marijuana use to peak and become as problematic as alcohol addiction is possible.
While dependency on illicit drugs continues to be a problem for some, prescription drug addiction has nearly overshadowed illicit drugs in the last decade. Narcotic pain relievers and stimulants top the list of prescription drug addictions. In 2001, reports indicated that nearly 87 percent of prescription drug addicts were white. Some reports also indicate prescription stimulates, such as those used to treat ADHD, are primarily abused by people under the age of 21. In addition to prescription drug addiction, over the counter (OTC) drug addiction has seen a rise in the last decade.
In addition to substance abuse, other addictions that are behavior oriented have seen rises and falls as well. Some behavior-based addictions that have existed for years have only recently become recognized as genuine addictions requiring intervention. For example, where gambling addictions were once unacknowledged, 12-step programs for gambling addicts are now as mainstream as AA. Similar addictions, including sex addiction, have also seen an increase in awareness. Certain addictions, like food addictions, have less social stigma but have come into the forefront as behavior addictions requiring modification nonetheless.
For many, an addiction may stem largely from habitual familiarity but many addictions are both psychological and physiological. Those who struggle with addiction are bound not only by the psychological habit but in many cases, a physical addiction. Substances that cause the body to respond to an absence, such as caffeine, nicotine, or an opiate drug, make overcoming addiction that much more difficult.
With an increase of studies pertaining to the psychological and physical dependencies created by addiction, programs to overcome addiction have improved as well. Programs to treat addiction were once barbaric in some sense, ignoring the psychological aspect of addiction. Today, programs that focus on the individual and each aspect of their addiction make it possible to overcome addiction once and for all. Through various support and treatment programs that address an individual’s addiction in both traditional and non-traditional methods, addiction recovery is becoming more successful.
Addictions of all varieties have seen some resurgence in different times but the core of addiction and the road to recovery remain the same. People struggling with addiction are often depressed and can see their life spiraling out of control but feel too alone or ashamed to ask for help. Oftentimes, denial is at the core of addiction, with those suffering from addiction unable to acknowledge their dependency. Those who are involved in an addict’s life also feel alone and afraid and may not know how to help.
Thankfully, as addiction at its core has remained virtually unchanged, the influx of information available through the Internet and the increase in public awareness and health education curriculum has improved the way people can find help. Additionally, this increase in information and awareness has improved the way recovery and treatment facilities are able to offer help. Treatment and recovery centers exist for nearly all types of addictions, in nearly every part of the country. Substance abuse hotlines and mental health benefits through insurance companies have also helped to facilitate addiction help. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, the first step to recovery is to ask for help.
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