Once an addict, Always an Addict?

Many people believe that once you become a drug addict, this condition follows you for the rest of your life, even if you’ve successfully completed a rehabilitation program and have been sober for years. But, is this really true? After you’ve discovered the reason for a drug addict, can you truly be an ex-addict?

Types Of Addiction

The Center for Addiction Recovery explores this notion by asserting that a physical drug addiction is easier to overcome than a mental one. A physical substance addiction occurs when the addict starts to use a drug at a level that makes it impossible to stop without professional help. Examples of this include smoking marijuana socially, a few times a month, then increasing the habit as the body craves more of the substance. Marijuana is also considered a gateway drug, meaning it can lead some individuals to start using more harmful drugs like cocaine or crystal meth. People begin increasing the amount of drugs they take during each session, as their bodies are becoming tolerant to the drug, and this leads to addiction.

Mental addiction, on the other hand, comes from a need to block out pain or hurtful circumstances. When a traumatizing experience happens in a person’s life, like parental abandonment, molestation, rape or abuse, he/she may turn to drugs as a way to numb the distress, sadness and anger that these situations evoke. The individual discovers that drugs are an “effective” and  immediate way to forget pain, and because they have not achieved complete healing any other way, the drugs serve as a way to escape harsh reality, and an addiction is formed.

Of course, there is also scientific evidence that some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. This doesn’t cause a person to start drinking or doing drugs. However, once a person with a hereditary tendency toward addiction tries a harmful substance, it is highly likely that they will have a hard time stopping. Individuals with a family history of drug abuse or alcoholism are encouraged to never use these substances, as the risk of addiction is very high, and it can be very difficult to quit.

So, in a way, even if a person has completed a treatment program and is in good recovery, the individual is still an addict. He/she knows the triggers that can lead to drug use, and must stay away from these factors forever in order to avoid becoming addicted again. However, some individuals who have been completely healed from the emotional pain associated with the tragic event that led to their drug use many never have the desire to use drugs again. The Center for Addiction Recovery does emphasize that no matter the reason for drug abuse, an ongoing treatment and counseling program can help a recovering addict to never use drugs or alcohol again.



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