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 increasing symptoms demonstrated by worse physical, emotional and social problems.
Addiction affects physical health.
Untreated addiction can kill a person. Death can occur from overdose. Medical problems occur in one’s brain, liver, heart or other organs.
Addiction is a factor in many suicides, vehicle crashes, physical altercations or other traumatic events.
Addiction involves poor control.
Some people have poor control over the amount. Some people have poor control over stopping.
Some people have poor control over behavior. All of these problems are 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.
The 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 that the use 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 the 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 unconscious self-delusion. Denial takes on many subtle forms including a lack of belief that use is causing serious problems and often the person will attribute the problems to other ‘causes’ and stubbornly refuse to see the real culprit is an addiction.