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Understanding Drug and Alcohol Addiction

alcohol addiction New York, NY

Drug and alcohol addiction are growing problems in the United States. According to a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey, nearly 20 million people are dealing with substance abuse problems. The survey also stated that over 66 million people engage in binge drinking at least once a month, and over 16 million partake in it at least five times a month. With these concerning numbers, it is important to understand more about the condition and seek help if you think you have a problem.

What is drug and alcohol addiction?

At the most basic level, addiction is a brain disease. It occurs when a person has a compulsion to use drugs or drink alcohol and that compulsion is very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. The condition has both a psychological and a physical side. Often people who are addicted will chase the substance of choice to the point of putting themselves and others at risk.

There is an insidious aspect to drug and alcohol addiction. The more a person uses the addictive substance, the more firmly that substance takes hold on them. It can also cause changes to the brain, making it harder to quit.

What causes addiction?

When people use a drug or drink alcohol for the first time, they likely do not know their susceptibility to addiction. There is not one factor that determines if someone will become addicted, but there are some high-risk factors. It has been proven that genetics have a noticeable impact on the chance of developing a problem. A person’s environment is another major factor. Individuals who live around others who use drugs or drink, or people who are under constant pressure to partake, are more likely to develop a problem.

Effects of addiction

Most drugs and alcohol trigger the brain’s reward center, flooding the system with dopamine and creating positive feelings and euphoria. The brain quickly adapts to and expects these triggers, leading to a dependence on the substance producing them. This dependence — addiction — grows stronger the more the substance is used.

There are many possible negative effects of substance abuse, which include impaired judgment leading to poor choices, heightened anxiety, memory loss and other altered behavior.

Recognizing addiction

Addiction comes with many warning signs. While having some of these is not proof of a problem, they are good indicators that one might be developing:

  • Losing interest in things that used to be important, such as family, friends and hobbies
  • Intending to reduce drug use or drinking but not being able to
  • Having a strong desire to use drugs or drink all the time, even at inappropriate venues
  • Having difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Needing to use more or drink more to get the same effects
  • Placing drinking or drug use above responsibilities such as school or work

Conclusion

If you see warning signs in your life of drug or alcohol addiction, it is a good idea to not ignore it. The longer you allow the addiction to go unaddressed, the stronger its grip becomes. Be sure to talk to a professional and seek advice.

Request an appointment here: https://nycpsychiatricassociates.com or call NYC Psychiatric Associates at (917) 391-0076 for an appointment in our New York office.

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