Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission for people anywhere from Phelan to Barstow and beyond. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
What does it mean?
The key take-home point on addiction is that it truly is a “real disease” of the brain and nervous system. Once it takes hold, it is no longer a disease that is under the control of willpower or good intentions, or even the love of parents, husbands, wives, or children. No one chooses to become an alcoholic or drug addict; it always happens by accident. But once it occurs, it is an incurable and progressive disease that affects every other system of the body and destroys the very soul.
The whole point of our existence at First Step Recovery Center is that addiction can be successfully treated, and anyone now suffering and gripped by its claws can recover and have many, many years of remission from this fatal diagnosis. Not only can they recover their previous health, they will soon find the doors opened to a life even better than they had before – if they are ready to consistently do the sometimes difficult, but straightforward work of embracing a Recovery lifestyle.
Sometimes it seems like other people out there can drink without becoming alcoholic or even use drugs without becoming addicts (although you can never really know what going on inside someone else’s life). But other people — due to a combination of factors, including their genetics, their childhood, their past and present family environments, a past history of trauma, or mental illness – are predisposed to addiction. Some people may be able to take it or leave it, but not these folks. They are an “addiction accident” just waiting to happen in Victorville, Hesperia, and other areas.
Here is an analogy to explain the predisposition to alcoholism and addiction:
With addiction, one eventually either becomes unable to stop using or drinking – or else if they can manage to stop for a period of time, they always seem compelled to pick up again for one reason or another (or even for no particular reason at all) – they just can’t stay stopped. These individuals in Apple Valley, Adelanto, or other places find themselves just as bad off as they were before, or worse. This is what we mean when we say this disease is cunning, baffling, powerful – and patient.
That is addiction – a one-way-ticket to a chronic, recurring, progressive, disabling, soul-destroying, and ultimately fatal illness.