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Substance Abuse & Addiction

Table of Contents

Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Substance addiction is a progressive, relapsing condition that is characterized by compulsive drug or alcohol abuse despite negative consequences. Addiction significantly impairs the user’s ability to control or quit substance use. Two mechanisms that fuel substance addiction are tolerance and dependence. Someone who has developed tolerance to a substance requires increasing doses to feel the desired effects. Taking ever-increasing doses or taking them more frequently to overcome tolerance can speed up the development of chemical and physical dependence to the addictive substance. When someone is dependent on a drug, they need the drug just to feel normal and will often experience some form of withdrawal when use is cut back or stopped. Although dependence and addiction are not the same, addiction is almost always accompanied by dependence as well as tolerance.

While every drug produces different short-term and long-term effects, some illegal drugs and legal drugs lead more easily to addiction. Click below to learn more about each individual substance addiction.

Commonly Abused Substances

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex condition characterized by persistent drug use or problematic behaviors, despite knowledge of the negative consequences. Although substance abuse may be the activity most commonly associated with addiction, a person is capable of developing an addiction to certain behaviors, such as gambling, as well 1,2. In fact, there are many different types of addiction.

Side Effects of Addiction

  • Brain changes resulting in drug or alcohol tolerance.
  • Impaired learning, decision-making, memory, and judgment.
  • Health problems
  • Organ damage, depending on the substance used.
  • Increased risk of communicable diseases.
  • Accidents.
  • Suicide.
  • Family strife and child custody issues.
  • Work problems, including declining performance, absenteeism, and loss of employment.
  • Diminished academic performance.
  • Legal issues.
  • Financial problems.

Behavioral addiction and substance addiction have a high rate of co-occurrence, suggesting the two conditions may share a common cause 5. The two addictions have similar mechanisms of action in the brain. Both substance abuse and engaging in addictive behaviors targets the brain’s reward system and produces feelings of pleasure 5.

Other similarities between substance addiction and behavioral addiction include 1,5:

  • Euphoria resulting from use or behavior.
  • Cravings.
  • Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.
  • Loss of control.
  • Development of tolerance.
  • Perceiving mind-altering effects.
  • Denial of problems, even with evidence.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

It is important to familiarize yourself with the indicators of addiction so that you can recognize problematic substance use and/or behaviors in yourself, a family member, or a loved one.

Signs of addiction include 5,7:

  • A great deal of time is spent using substances or engaging in the problematic behavior.
  • The inability to cut back or quit using or engaging in the behavior.
  • A strong desire to use or engage in the behavior.
  • An inability to fulfill obligations at school, work, or home.
  • Relationship or social problems resulting from use or behavior.
  • Previously enjoyed hobbies are abandoned in favor of use or behavior.
  • Tolerance to the substance or behavior.
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use or behavior.

Finding Help for an Addiction

Addiction varies by person, and American Addiction Centers goes above and beyond to provide personalized treatment for each and every person while offering the best Addiction Treatment in the country.

Health insurance plans will cover treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans now have access to these forms of treatment. Plans can vary in terms of what type of coverage they provide or how long they will cover treatment, so it’s best to check with your provider or the rehab program you’re interested in attending.

American Addiction Centers Can Help

American Addiction Centers specializes in alcohol abuse, substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment programs. AAC offers many specialty programs in Addiction Treatment for veterans, LGBTQ communities and more. AAC also stands behind our treatment program.

If you successfully complete our 90-day program, AAC guarantees you’ll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30-days of treatment. AAC’s clinical program was developed using best practices in addiction treatment, proven to be effective for long-term recovery.

Every American Addiction Centers facility provides its own combination of proven therapies and services to meet your needs.

Looking for Addiction Treatment Near You?

American Addiction Centers operates facilities across the nation. Some facilities offer specialized programming for certain demographics such as first responders, or veterans. Regardless of the American Addiction Centers facility you choose, rest assured you will be provided a unique program fit just for you and your own path to recovery.

You can find more information on all of our facilities here.

Unsure About Seeking Treatment?

Seeking treatment can be intimidating. It’s hard to know where to start. Check out the following guides below to help you understand what the typical steps to sobriety look like and what to expect when calling a substance abuse hotline.