A common fear among people who use medications or recreational substances is that they are veering toward addiction. But what does it mean to be crossing the line into addiction?
What Defines Addiction?
The National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as the following:
A chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.
Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.
This definition may be a generalization, but it gives us a good place to start the conversation about crossing the line into addiction.
For people that have been using drugs (illicit or prescribed), the idea of living without them can be frightening. When this realization hits, it usually means the person has developed a dependence. However, in some cases, this is perfectly fine, as long as it is prescribed medication being used for its proper use and in the prescribed dosage.
More often than not, this dependence is unhealthy and depleting. People may find that they are unable to control their impulses and return to the substance whether they want to or not. It is a compulsion that grows and takes hold in a way that is uncontrollable to the point of being noticed not just by the individual but also by loved ones.
Noticing Changing Habits
The phenomenon of dependence is not something that goes unnoticed. Dependence may be something people attempt to hide, but eventually, it becomes serious enough to be noticed. It is impossible to go without changing one’s habits, routines, and behaviors.
Consider the fact that dependence fundamentally alters an individual’s brain chemistry. When this happens, it creates changes in daily habits. This will be seen in daily interactions, at work, and in how people handle things like finances. Regardless of where these changes begin, it will become harder to hide them.
Some people may not even realize they are exhibiting these changes and will do nothing to hide them. For these people, the realization may come from the outside. A loved one may point out the changes. It will quickly become apparent that these changes are real, despite how much the person may fight the notion.
Crossing the Line Does Not Mean the End
There are a variety of ways to approach the realization of a crossed line. Unfortunately, some people may believe that once crossed, there is no way to get back to who they were. They see addiction as an inevitability that will only get worse.
This could not be further from the truth. In fact, realizing that one has an addiction may be the best thing to happen to them. When the realization is reached, decisions can be made. These will be difficult decisions but ones that will change the way the individual lives the rest of their life.
When the person realizes the extent of their dependence, it will allow them to take a good look at the ways their life has changed and the grip that their addiction has on their life. At this point, they can begin to seek assistance from loved ones and recovery programs.
Accepting Assistance After Crossing the Line
One of the hardest things for people to understand is that regardless of where their addiction has led them, there are always people ready to help. They may have pushed away loved ones, shut out friends, and alienated those around them. However, even in these cases, recovery centers and professionals want to give them a second chance at life.
The idea of accepting assistance is difficult for people. We are told from a young age that independence is sometimes the most important thing. Once we reach adulthood, it is up to us to solve our own problems. Yet addiction is something that cannot be handled alone. In fact, the way that it isolates proves that the one thing people need more than anything else is a reconnection to the community.
The Benefits of West Coast Recovery Centers
West Coast Recovery Centers understands that some people are shocked to find themselves in the grip of addiction. Others may be fully aware of where they are but are unable to shake their dependence. West Coast Recovery Centers asks only one thing: that people show a willingness to change. Once this is established, the recovery process can begin.
Addiction is a difficult road to navigate. For some people, the idea that they might be addicted may never cross their minds. They may simply see their behavior as experimental or social. West Coast Recovery Centers understands that these individuals need to understand just what their behavior means. When a person can begin to understand where the line of addiction is, they can begin to take actions that will benefit them and those around them. West Coast Recovery Centers offers a variety of programs for people to take part in, no matter what level of care they require. To learn more about addiction, our program, and what we can do to help, contact us today at (760) 492-6509.