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Addiction, Alcohol, Change is Possible, Mental Health, Nicotine, Prescription Drugs, Substance Abuse

Understanding Addictions


How can you begin to understand addictions? What is an addiction? Who is at risk? What risk factors increase my chances of addiction?

Addiction has been described as a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. It is defined by the Addiction Center as, “a chronic, relapsing brain disease defined by a physical and psychological dependence on drugs, alcohol, or a behavior. When an addictive disorder has formed, a person will pursue their toxic habits despite putting themselves or others in harm’s way.”

Three Things About Addiction:

There are three things that all addictions have in common: they are all a progressive disease. If left untreated it will get worse. Secondly, it is chronic. There is no cure for addictions, but they can be managed. Thirdly, they are all potentially fatal.

Who is at Risk of Addiction?

In short, everyone. There are certain groups who are at a higher risk of developing addictions. Teens and adults with mental disorders are at a higher risk of developing a substance abuse pattern.

What if Any Factors Increase the Risk of Developing an Addiction?

  • Biology: The genetic information that a person is born with is counts for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Furthermore gender, ethnicity, and the presence of a mental illness also influences the risk of substance addiction. 
  • Environment: Pressures such as family, friends, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs and alcohol. Economical situations, stress, and the general quality of life may all influence the risk of addiction. 
  • Development: Taking any substance at any stage in your life can lead to addiction. That said the younger the age of the user is the greater the risk will be. 

Is there a Difference Between Addiction & Dependence?

Yes. To begin, dependence is when someone develops a physical tolerance to a substance. Withdrawal symptoms may be present. Typically dependency is treated by slowly weaning the user off the substance. While addiction is when a substance has been used extensively. So much so that it has altered the person’s brain chemistry. Addiction presents as uncontrollable cravings to use a substance. Even if it does harm to the user or those around them. Addiction can only be managed through treatment.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) addiction to drugs is a complex disease. Most importantly, “It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesn’t work. As chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed and often modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.” 

 For more information about what treatment options Embracia Clinic offers for substance addiction, follow the link!

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