Addiction is a chronic disease.
Addiction must be treated, managed and monitored just like any other disease over a person’s lifetime.
Addiction is progressive.
Addiction gets worse, not better over time. Without treatment, addiction will not go away nor will it stay at the same level of intensity. Most people have increased symptoms demonstrated by worsening physical, emotional and social problems.
Addiction affects physical health.
Untreated addiction can eventually lead to overdose or death. Medical conditions can develop in the heart, liver, lungs and else where. Addiction can be a factor in suicide, vehicle crashes, physical altercations and other traumatic events.
Addiction involves poor control.
Some people lack control over the amount consumed, others lack control in stopping, or the ability to control their behavior. These could be signs of addiction.
Addiction involves preoccupation or obsession.
The preoccupation takes the form of planning the next use or sometimes concealing the use from others. Preoccupation eliminates attention from important problems and responsibilities and often the people in one’s life.
Addiction involves use despite negative consequences.
This is when you choose to use knowing it will affect relationships, finances, work responsibilities, physical health or mental health. Some people use even when facing serious legal consequences.
Addiction involves denial.
Denial is a mental defense mechanism that masks the reality of addiction. Denial is present when others can see the effects, but the person who is addicted cannot see the negative consequences caused by use. This process is often an unconscious self-delusion. Denial takes on many subtle forms including the lack of belief that using is causing serious problems. Often people will attribute the problems to other ‘causes’ and stubbornly refuse to see the real culprit is an addiction.