It isn’t possible to overstate that addiction is dangerous, especially regarding drugs. Not only does the opioid crisis continue to take lives, but our society struggles with addiction in all forms. Addressing these issues can be extremely difficult. For some families, addiction is what tore apart relationships with decades of history, and turned a person you once knew into someone else. For the individuals who struggle to overcome their condition, the stigma of addiction and the fight for a clean life can sometimes be all-consuming, or seemingly hopeless
To society, the issue of addiction can be overwhelming, and is not something we can simply march to war against. Addiction is dangerous, but also misunderstood and badly represented, and the solution lies far beyond simply treating the problem with contempt.
The first step to acting against addiction is to do what you can to help those in your life – especially if you’re someone fight addiction on a personal level. It starts at home, and with the right attitude, we can help shape a better understanding of addiction and mental health, and address issues in healthcare and culture surrounding these dangers. But to begin, it’s important to learn about addiction – and find out why addiction is dangerous and as serious as it is.
How Addiction Consumes People
Addiction is mental health condition that happens on several levels. The DSM defines addiction as a “maladaptive pattern of substance abuse leading to clinically significant impairment”. The explicit reason for the abuse is not strictly important for the diagnostic criteria, as the development of a harmful habit can be either physical, psychological, or both physical and psychological in nature.
Some people start down a path of addiction due to emotional trauma, coupled with unfortunate circumstances, and an unhealthy attachment to the effects of a drug given the pain they’re in. Other people slip into substance abuse through a period of “casual” use, during which their brain undergoes the process that causes a physical addiction.
On the psychological side, addiction is dangerous and can be considered a form of bad coping. Coping is important for all people – we all need ways to cope with our issues, and we all form ways to deal with stress. Some ways, however, are more healthy and helpful than others. Drugs are an example of a very unhealthy, and very unhelpful coping mechanism. But the psychoactive effects of most drugs make them extremely alluring anyways.
On the physical side, continued use of a substance triggers the development of tolerance, and cravings. There is no concrete time frame for addiction – it takes longer to develop in some people than it does in others, and the addictive potency of the drug plays a key role – but over the course of continuous use, addiction develops as a brain disease that alters a person’s perceptions of pleasure and reward, and cause powerful cravings for a drug. Over time, the body adapts to the effects of drugs and develops a tolerance to it, which leads to an increase in usage, and often an overdose. This unpredictability is part of why addiction is dangerous.
Addiction Hides Problems From You
Aside from an addiction’s potential to trap you in a vortex of cravings and highs, and its complicated origins in the brain, the emotional impact of drug use can have drastic and long-lasting repercussions in your life. Aside from physical dangers, such as breaking down your organs, endangering your heart, causing brain damage and potentially triggering cancer growth, years of addiction can cause you to forget how to deal with problems, or even recognize them at all, lending a whole new meaning to the idea addiction is dangerous.
When someone relies on a coping mechanism like drug use due to an addiction, one of the hardest parts of recovery include confronting issues without an equally effective way of coping. The emotional toll can be significant to begin with, and many people experience a rollercoaster of emotions within the first few months of recovery, especially as they ease their way back into a sober life of responsibilities and commitments.
Addiction is dangerous because it causes you to be blind to life – and while this can keep you from having to look at the bad, it also keeps you from realizing and enjoying the good. Not seeing the bad also means that when you do go sober, you’re forced to deal with a bigger problem. These dangers – robbing you of a healthy way to cope and regressing emotional maturity for months or even years – are significant, and can take a while to get used to. That is why many treatment options concern themselves with not just giving you the tools to stay clean, but giving you the tools to deal with life once you’ve been clean long enough.
A Comprehensive Response To How Addiction Is Dangerous
Just as addiction is dangerous because it is multifaceted and complicated, and the antagonist of a unique struggle in every individual who gets diagnosed with it, the answer to addiction is never simple or straightforward. Even on an individual level, it would be tough to summarize the right approach to overcoming addiction as any less than creating a “comprehensive response”. In other words: to help someone overcome addiction, their treatment must address psychological issues, physical issues, and provide both answers and solutions in the short-term, and a long-term plan.
For some, that might involve a special residential treatment, medical help to fight withdrawal symptoms, and frequent one-on-one therapy. For others, a short stay at a sober living home and a few months spent meeting new people and making one or two meaningful connections might be just what is needed. Treatment facilities must account for limitations and specifications, time and budget restraints, and more.
Beyond that, every case of addiction is best treated on more than just an individual level. When treatment is done, and therapy comes to an end, the family and friends of a person effectively continue to be their therapist. A lack of understanding or well-intentioned mistakes can undo months of therapy, and bring someone to the brink of relapse.
If you’re struggling with addiction, the best thing you can do is go see a professional. There is no be-all-end-all path to long-term sobriety – but getting help in exploring all the options instead of going with the first one you can find may make a significant difference.