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Here’s What You Might Not Know About Addiction

By now, most people realize that the old stereotypes of alcoholics and drug abusers no longer apply. Addicts are not people at the fringes of society, hanging out in dark alleys or the gutter. Anyone around you may be abusing drugs and alcohol and you might not even know it.

Today, we are sharing five things that many people don’t realize about the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol in our country:

  1. Addiction does not come from a lack of willpower.  Addiction is a disease, just like high blood pressure, asthma, or diabetes. Just like with other diseases, some people are more susceptible to it because of genetics. And some get it with no genetic history, and some develop it because of lifestyle. Like other diseases, it can develop over the course of years or be dangerous almost from the beginning.
  2. Addicts can control their illness “if they want to bad enough.” Unfortunately, treatment for addiction is not one-size-fits-all. Some people can manage their addiction through faith and willpower very well. Others cannot. It’s important to remember that over time, alcohol and drug use injure the limbic system of the brain. The brain’s chemistry and neurological pathways become damaged, and many addicts require medical help and possibly anti-addiction medicines to restore the chemical balance and heal those pathways.
  3. There is a strong correlation between mental illness and addiction. Thousands of people being treated in drug and alcohol rehab centers suffer from an addiction along with a mental illness. Mental illness, including anxiety and depression, increases the likelihood that someone will experiment with drugs—they try to reduce their symptoms by drinking or taking drugs, but then the substance makes those symptoms worse. This leads to the individual using increasing amounts of substance, which can lead to addiction.
  4. Teenagers are one of the largest groups of people abusing prescription drugs. Middle- and high-school students are stealing prescription drugs, often opioid painkillers, from their parents and other adults, and they use them to get high. High numbers of teens in the United States are dying from prescription drug overdoses or from heroin, which they move onto because it can be cheaper and easier to acquire.
  5. You can’t beat a drug test just because you’re not high at the moment. Many employers drug-test applicants before making a job offer, and it takes longer for substances to leave the body than most people think. Some drug and alcohol users think the substance leaves their system after they stop feeling the effects, but urine tests can detect the presence of drugs for days or weeks after the person uses, and hair tests can locate substances after several months.

If you’re looking for more information about alcohol or drug addiction–and live in the Western New York area, call or contact Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800. We are here to provide answers and assistance.