What is Addiction?
Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.
Adopted by the ASAM Board of Directors September 15, 2019
"Addiction begins with the hope that something out there can numb the pain or fill the void."
The addiction cycle is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.
It is a chronic dysfunction of the brain system that involves reward, motivation, and memory. It is about the way the body craves a substance or behavior, often in a compulsive or obsessive manner in pursuit of a brain chemical reward and lack of concern over consequences. The behavior produces such an intense activation of the reward system that normal activities may be neglected.
Addiction may cause a person to:
- Be unable stay away from the substance or stop the addictive behavior
- Display a lack of self-control
- Have an increased desire for the substance or behavior
- Dismiss how their behavior may be causing problems
- Lack an emotional response
- Neglect family and friends
- Neglect children and family responsibilities
- Engage in risky behaviors (trading sex for drugs, stealing for drugs or money, driving dangerously or becoming violent while under the influence)
- Dropping hobbies & activities they used to enjoy
- Become secretive
- Change friends or people they hang out with
- Have legal troubles
What Is Substance Use Disorder?
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems.
DSM-V, Fifth Ed. 2013
Substance Abuse is the maladaptive behavior pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances, or behaviors.
DSM-IV TR, Fourth Ed. 2000
But what does that mean?
SUD occurs when someone’s use of a harmful substance takes over their life and leads to problems at home, work or school.
What Is Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a disorder characterized by loss of control of opioid use, risky use, impaired social functioning, tolerance, and withdrawal. Tolerance and withdrawal do not count toward the diagnosis in people experiencing these symptoms when using opioids under appropriate medical supervision. OUD covers a range of severity and replaces what the DSM-IV termed “opioid abuse” and “opioid dependence.”
SAMHSA TIP 6, 2018
But what does that mean?
OUD occurs when someone misuses opioids. That may mean they are using street drugs, or misusing or abusing prescription drugs. Either way, it means they need help.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, morphine, codeine as well as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and many others.
When used correctly under a health care provider’s direction, prescription pain medicines are helpful. However, misusing prescription opioids or using street drugs risks dependence and addiction.
Are you currently struggling with addiction? Help is available.
Supporting a loved one with addiction? Get the resources.
Stigma, Discrimination & Mental Illness
Stigma is the prejudice and discrimination of a stereo-typing image put upon another person. It is felt as shame, embarrassment and degradation. It can be a driving force in self-loathing and even make a person hesitant about seeking treatment for substance use, addiction and mental health treatment.
Stigma kills and we must find a cure. We can all help to beat stigma by supporting people with addiction, mental illness or mental health challenges. We reduce the prejudice and discrimination of stigma by getting to know people, not judging their circumstances, and educating ourselves. We all have a role in creating a mentally healthy community that supports recovery and social inclusion and reduces discrimination.
We are a diverse community; how do our experiences and cultures affect how we receive and obtain treatment? Drugs do not discriminate, and treatment shouldn’t either.