September was National Recovery Month! National Recovery month encourages people of all ages to learn more about addiction as well as recovery. Recovery is possible! No one ever wakes up one morning and says, “I want to be an addict.” Addiction is not a moral dilemma or a spiritual failure; it is a legitimate medical disease. Addiction does not discriminate; it crosses all ages, genders, socioeconomic levels, geographical boundaries, races, and ethnicities.
The term addiction has become very common over the years; to the point that the American Psychiatric Association took the term out of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013. The term addiction was replaced with “Use Disorder.” Regardless of the substance, there are a few major criteria that assessors utilize to evaluate whether or not someone has a substance use disorder.
An individual will find themselves using more and more of the substance in an attempt at getting the same effect that they got when they first began using that substance. This is done because the body builds a tolerance to the substance and requires more to achieve the same effect. Unfortunately for many people, this can lead to overdosing and ultimately death.
Because of this tolerance and need for more of the substance, more time is spent having to either find the funds or find the substances which lead to neglecting other areas in their lives. Often times when the individual first realize that this is happening, they make attempts to stop or regulate their use and many people in the early stages of the disease are successful; especially through the use of support groups.
However many more individuals continue to use or relapse despite negative outcomes of risky behaviors. This often times happens because they are unable to break the ties to the triggers that keep them using; commonly known as people, places, and things. Additionally, many continue to use due to a need to numb the physical or emotional pain they are in. This creates physical and/or psychological cravings for the substance which become so intense that it monopolizes every waking moment. It does so because Substance Use Disorders change the brain’s chemical circuits.
This has been a rather simplistic explanation to a very complex disorder but if it helps educate even 1 person about recovery, it has achieved its goal. For more information or assistance, The Alabama Department of Mental Health offers a 24/7 Helpline, in partnership with ROSS. Call 1-844-307-1760 for those struggling with Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders who are in need of support.