4 Things to Know About Addiction

When you hear the word "addiction" you might think of alcohol and substance abuse. You might think about the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V) definition of alcohol use disorder:

  • A problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:
    • Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
    • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use
There is so much more to addiction than this snippet of a definition- so, that is why I thought I would share 4 things to know about addiction. The following information is in Dr. Marilyn Freimuth's book Addicted?: Recognizing Destructive Behavior Before it's Too Late. There is a lot of important information in this book (I would like to discuss more of it in another post). For now, I share some important information from the first two chapters of her book.

4 Things to Know About Addiction:

 1. Addiction is a major health concern

  • Dr. Freimuth states that "people with addictions make more medical visits than those without addictions”.* Addiction not only affects individuals’ mental health, but also their physical health.
  • Additionally, "substance-related disorders are the most frequently occurring mental health problem (Brems and Johnson, 1997).* Having an addiction is incredibly common. We need to support individuals who have addictions and let them know that there are other people struggling just like them... they are not alone.

2. There are different types of addictions: not just substance abuse

  • Dr. Freimuth explains "virtually any behavior can become a full-fledged addiction...."**
  • In other words, individuals can have addictions to many different things/activities: gambling, porn, video games, sex, shopping, exercise, substances, television, and many more.

3. Most addictions are hidden

  • Many individuals who have an addiction can hide their addiction for a certain amount of time. In fact, many individuals do not realize they have an addiction.*

4. Individuals with addictions can improve
  • There can be a feeling of despair when one realizes they have an addiction. It can feel hopeless- especially if there are relapses. But with the support of family, friends, and professionals, individuals can improve their life. It takes time, patience, strength, and perseverance. The addiction may never be fully cured, but it does not have to consume an individual's life like it often does in the beginning stages of addiction. 

In conclusion, the struggle of an addiction is a difficult journey. There is a lot of research in this field and I suggest researching even more! Dr. Freimuth's book is a great place to start learning more about addiction! Here is a link to buy the book if you are interested (not sponsored 😊)

I hope this post was helpful! I know you are going to do great things!

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5, 5th ed, American Psychiatric Association, 2013. p. 490. 
Freimuth, M. (2008). Chapter 1. In Addicted?: Recognizing destructive behavior before it's too late (pp. 2–3). essay, Rowman & Littlefield.

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