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Understanding Addiction


For a behavioral health condition that affects millions of Americans, their families and communities, addiction to alcohol or other drugs is widely misunderstood and stigmatized. Simply put, addiction presents as a disease and negatively impacts the victim's life spiritually, socially, physically, and psychologically. The behavioral aspects of addiction are characterized by the continued use of alcohol or other drugs even when that use causes harm or interferes with achieving goals in life.

You might also hear addiction described as "a disease of the mind, body and spirit." That’s because the condition involves a physical and psychological craving or compulsion to use mood-altering substances, and because recovery from addiction involves physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual healing.


What Is the Medical Definition of Addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry." Classification as a "primary disease" means addiction is not the result of some other situation, problem or health issue. For example, addiction is not caused by a bad marriage, financial hardship, a difficult childhood or other co-occurring mental health disorders.

In fact, the number one risk factor for substance use disorder—the medical term for addiction—is genetics. Individuals who have a family history of the disease are at a much greater risk than the general public of developing a substance use disorder.

Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension, addiction often involves cycles of relapse (recurrence of symptoms) and remission. Other criteria used by the medical community in classifying substance use disorder as a disease include:

  • Observable symptoms and signs

  • Biological origins

  • Predictable progression

  • Responsive to treatment

Here are three critical facts you need to know about drug addiction if you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one:

  • It's progressive—if unaddressed, it will get worse

  • It's chronic—there is no cure, but it can be successfully managed

  • It's potentially fatal

Have you ever wondered if your Alcohol or Drug use has become a problem?

This is a very important question. If you're thinking about, if your alcohol or drug use is a problem, it probably has presented some issue in your life. For millions of Americans, alcohol and drug use has become abuse in their life. Admitting abuse is the first step in recovery. 

Below is a quick and simple test that will help you find if you have an addiction. 


Drug & Alcohol Quick Test


Alcoholism has physical and behavioral signs. While it’s important to be aware of all the signs and symptoms, answering this simple, five-question alcohol & drug use disorder quiz can give you some really helpful information.

  1. Most days in a week, do you feel like you need a drink or drugs to cope?

  2. Do you spend most of the day thinking about the next time you can have a drink or drugs?

  3. Have you ever had feelings of guilt or shame about your drinking and drug use?

  4. Have your family, co-workers or friends confronted you about your drinking or drug use? 

  5. Have your drinking or drug use caused you to lose relationships, licenses, jobs, or other privileges? 

If you answered "yes" to two or more questions may indicate addiction. This “test” is just a first step in determining whether you could be diagnosed with substance abuse. The next step is to talk with a licensed addiction professional who can provide a thorough assessment to determine a clinical diagnosis. And if addiction is diagnosed, the licensed professional can also help you sort through the best treatment options to meet your needs. Call 763-339-7506 today to get started.

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