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Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol - A Disease?

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Is addiction to drugs and alcohol a disease? Many, if not most authorities on the subject answer this question in the affirmative.

Drug addiction and alcohol addiction are chronic, long-term, often progressive diseases with symptoms that include a strong need to take the drug or to drink in spite of detrimental consequences such as serious financial, legal, relationship, job, and/or health problems.

Addiction, Dependency, and Environmental and Genetic Factors

Like many other illnesses and diseases, drug and alcohol dependency have recognizable symptoms, a fairly predictable course, and are influenced by various environmental and genetic factors.

In fact, due to more relevant case studies and advancements in research, the genetic and environmental components of addiction are becoming better defined and understood every year.

Being addicted to alcohol or drugs means that in spite of the "best intentions," an individual has little or no control over whether he or she uses drugs or alcohol.

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Stated more precisely, an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has grown so accustomed to the substance that he or she simply "needs" to have the substance in order to "feel right" or to function.

It is important to mention, moreover, that addiction can be psychological, physical, or both.

Physical Addiction

Physical addiction takes place when a person's body actually becomes dependent on a particular substance.

It also means that a person develops a tolerance to that particular substance, meaning that the user requires a larger dose than before to get the same "buzz" or "high."

When a person who is physically addicted stops using a substance such as cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal is defined as any psychological or physical disturbance experienced by a drug addict when deprived of the drug.

Withdrawal symptoms vary from drug to drug. The seriousness of withdrawal symptoms is highly dependant on the drug or drugs that were abused by the addict. Withdrawal symptoms for many individuals, are similar to having the flu.

Typical withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, sweating, depression, diarrhea, shaking, muscle aches, and craving for drugs or alcohol.

Psychological Addiction

Psychological addiction occurs when the cravings for a drug are psychological or emotional.

People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have the drug in question.

These feelings are so strong that in many instances psychologically and physically addicted individuals will do almost anything for their next "fix" including lying, stealing, and in some instances, killing.

Many times people abuse drugs or alcohol in order to have "fun" or to get a "buzz."

Many individuals, in fact, report that having a few drinks makes them feel more comfortable in social situations.

The danger, however, is this: repeated drug or alcohol abuse can result in addiction.

When person is addicted, he or she no longer takes drugs or alcohol to have fun or to get high. Rather, the addicted person needs the drugs or alcohol in order to function on a daily basis.

In fact, in many instances, the addicted person's everyday life centers around satisfying her or his need for the substance to which she or he is addicted.

Conclusion: Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol - A Disease?

It is truly sad that the "buzz" and the "fun" that many individuals experience when drinking frequently motivates them to consume more each time they drink and to drink more frequently.

At some point, moreover, the line between alcohol abuse and alcoholism gets blurry as the individual gradually becomes more reliant on alcohol until he or she simply needs to drink in order to function. Is addiction to drugs and alcohol a disease?

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Once a person loses control over the frequency and the amount of alcohol he or she drinks, the answer is regrettably" yes."

In fact, similar to silent killers such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, realizing the consequences of alcohol addiction may come too little, too late.

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