Living with Addiction and Recovery
According to statistics, more than 120 Americans die daily from a drug overdose. Drug abuse is currently the nation's leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 – with more combined fatalities than auto accidents and gun violence combined.
In today's world, addiction has left few people or families unaffected. Drug and alcohol abuse is a problem many Americans face early in life, often in their own homes, and it remains a constant theme in their social support circles long after childhood. In many families, drug and alcohol use is an unwelcome legacy passed down from parents to children. The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse in U.S. households raises questions about how addiction emerges and why people follow in the footsteps of dependent family members.
To understand the genetic link, it is essential to understand that addiction is a chronic disease. Mutations in a single gene cause many diseases, but addiction is not. Substance use disorder is a complex disorder that affects not just a single genetic code; variations in many different genes contribute to a person's overall risk of addiction. Genetics isn't the only predictor of addiction; it's only part of the equation regarding a person's risk of developing an addictive disorder. To understand the complete picture, let's dive deeper into living with addiction and the recovery process.
Addiction and Dependency
Addiction is a compulsive psychological need for, and use of, a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. The most common causes of addiction are chronic stress, a history of trauma, mental illness, and a family history of addiction. Understanding how these contribute to chronic substance abuse and addiction can reduce your dependence risk.
Most dependencies fall into one of three categories:
Behavioral Addiction: Many people associate addiction only with substances like alcohol or drugs. But they may also depend on specific behaviors. Common addictive behaviors include shopping, sex, gambling, and video games. Compulsive behaviors give users a sense of high or high, like those addicted to material experiences.
Substance Addiction: Substance addiction creates physical dependence on specific chemicals. People may become addicted to prescription drugs like opioids or illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, or meth. For example, alcoholism is substance addiction.
Impulse Addiction: Impulse control disorders can lead to impulse addiction. People with impulse control disorder have difficulty controlling their behavior and emotions. The disease can leave a person vulnerable to theft, emotional outbursts, or disruptive behavior. Behaviors associated with impulse control disorders can be addictive. Impulsivity addiction can also overlap with other mental health problems, like substance abuse.
Alcoholism is the most common addiction, affecting more than 14 million Americans. But it's not the only addiction that is crippling our country. Here are a few of the most common addictions in the United States:
Drug Abuse: When you think of addiction, drug abuse is usually the first thing that comes to mind. People can become addicted to various drugs, including powders, pills, and injectables. Substances like cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and meth are highly addictive substances that can easily lead to addiction.
Alcoholism: Alcohol is legal for those over 21 years old and broadly socially accepted, contributing to its high addiction numbers. Heavy alcohol abuse can cause a long list of health problems, and getting behind the wheel of an automobile while impaired adds another level of complexity and concern for personal and public safety.
Tobacco Abuse: Cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and vapes all contain nicotine and addictive substance. Many smokers and chewers start at a young age – 90% begin before age 18. Nicotine causes a spike in adrenaline and dopamine, which gives the user a relaxing feeling. However, users routinely struggle with physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop.
Compulsive Eating: Food addictions are severe and can cause long-lasting physical and psychological effects. Many people use food to cope with difficult emotions like stress. Compulsive eating can lead to obesity, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
Gambling: Betting on sports and playing online poker have been around for generations. Still, recent law changes have made it easier for people to wager on their mobile devices, leading to an increased awareness of compulsive gambling. Gambling addicts can drain their savings, destroy personal relationships, and even commit crimes to fuel their behavior.
Shopping: You've heard of "retail therapy," which is harmless, but it can evolve into compulsive behavior, so be wary. Purchasing an item to make yourself feel better can turn into an addiction. Excessive shopping can have drastic consequences, especially for your financial situation.
Sex Addiction: A sex addiction is no laughing matter. For some, sex addiction can be an unhealthy consumption of pornography or masturbation, or engaging in risky sexual behavior. Addiction is characterized by an inability to control sexual behaviors and thoughts.
Video Game Addiction: Playing video games can be a fun outlet, but it can lead to an unhealthy dependence if you spend too much time online. First, excessive gaming can interfere with your responsibilities, like school or work. While not physically addictive, it can lead to increased isolation and loneliness and adversely affect your confidence and self-esteem.
Psychotherapy and Counseling = Recovery
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, there are ways to get help. Counseling and psychotherapy can effectively support those struggling with addiction, relationships, and family dynamics. A therapeutic approach is most beneficial when the client, couple, family, or group is willing to deal with the challenging feelings surrounding their concerns. At Mindful Living Group, our curriculum uses moment-of-consciousness practice, psychoeducation, evidence-based therapy, and other clinical techniques to find unique solutions for individuals, couples, families, and groups. We help you find answers and closure to pertinent questions that affect you, like:
· Are you struggling with a recent or unresolved traumatic life event?
· Do you struggle with meaning or purpose in life?
· Do you suffer from depression, anxiety, addiction, or other mental health issues?
· Are you having trouble communicating with others or building meaningful relationships?
· Are you going through a major life challenge or transition?
You are not alone, and there is much to gain from within that can guide your journey. Therapy with MLG is a safe, confidential place to meet these challenges, and we have a team ready to help. We accept many insurance plans and offer tiered/hardship rates for cash-paying customers on a case-by-case basis.