What Does Being Addicted Mean?

Addiction or substance use disorders (SUD) refer to a chronic disease characterized by uncontrollable compulsive drug use and seeking. People suffering from addiction continuously use drugs despite adverse consequences and irreversible brain alterations. Addicted definition is both medical and psychological in most cases.

Because of these complex interactions and alterations to the brain, substance use frequently results in destructive behavior patterns. Substance addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder. Relapse refers to returning to drug usage after an initial abstinence effort fails.

Drug addiction usually starts with voluntary drug consumption. However, a person’s ability to choose to abstain diminishes over time, leading to compulsive drug seeking and use.

This compulsive behavior is primarily because brain circuits involved in processing rewards, motivation, memory, and behavioral regulation are negatively affected by addiction. Addiction affects the brain and behavior.

Addicted Definition: How Does an Addiction Develop?

Developing Addiction

You may become addicted to a legal habit forming substance like alcohol or illicit drugs such as heroin. Most people start by experimenting with recreational drugs such as alcohol or marijuana in a social setting, then the drug use frequency increases. Conversely, others start the path to addiction by taking prescription drugs such as opioids.

The risk of addiction and the time it takes to get addicted varies by drug and person. Some substances, like prescription painkillers, have a higher risk of causing addiction than others.

With time, you may need high doses of the drug to feel the same effect, and soon you’ll need the medication to feel good. Prolonged drug use might make you unable, and attempts to quit using may lead to intense cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

If you are struggling with substance use disorder, talk to our addiction specialists for information on how to reclaim your life from addiction.

Why do People Take Drugs?

People take drugs for various reasons, such as:

To Feel Good

Drugs can cause a person to experience a rush of intense pleasure.

However, depending on the substance, you may experience a wide range of side effects after this initial high wears off. Stimulants like cocaine, for instance, produce a surge of energy, a sense of power, and self-confidence after the high.

Opioid drugs like heroin, on the other hand, provide euphoria followed by feelings of calm and contentment.

Social Pressure and Curiosity

This is a common problem among teenagers because of the powerful influence of their peers. The adolescent years are a vulnerable time for substance abuse because of the influence of peers who may also be using.

To Boost Performance

Some people are under constant stress to perform better academically, professionally, or athletically. This may contribute to the initial experimentation with or maintenance of drug usage, particularly with stimulants like prescription caffeine pills and street narcotics like cocaine.

To Feel Better

Drug abuse is a common coping mechanism for those with mental health issues such as social anxiety, stress, and depression. Clients in recovery from chronic addiction generally struggle with stress, which can lead to new drug use or relapse.

What are the Risk Factors for Addiction?

Risk Factors for Addiction

The risk of addiction varies from person to person, just as it does with the risk of developing other diseases and disorders. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is crucial to note there is no single element that predicts who will or will not become addicted to a habit forming substance.

Your potential to develop a substance abuse problem is usually proportional to the number of risk factors you have. Conversely, protective factors help to lessen the chance of addiction.

Addiction risk and protective factors can have environmental and biological origins. For example, children exposed to aggressive behaviors are more likely to fall into addiction than those who enjoyed support and monitoring from their parents.

Biological Factors that Increase the Risk of Addiction

Some people are more predisposed to addiction than others because of biological factors such as their genetics, developmental stage, gender, or ethnicity.

Experts believe that a person’s genetics, including environmental circumstances on gene expression, also known as epigenetics, accounts for between 40 and 60 percent of the susceptibility to chronic addiction.

There is also a higher risk of substance abuse and addiction among adolescents and people with mental health issues. Remember, early experiences between children and their families significantly impact their future well-being and vulnerability to substance use.

Environmental Factors that Increase the Risk of Substance Abuse

Environmental factors usually include those related to family, home, school, and the society. Below are some examples:

  • Family and Home: The influence of one’s family and home environment cannot be overstated, especially in the formative years. Parental or other elder family member drug usage, alcohol abuse, or lawbreaking might put youngsters at risk for developing substance abuse issues.
  • School and Peers: Relationships between students and the school system. During adolescence, the influence of friends and other peers often grows. Drug-using peers can persuade even low-risk peers to use drugs for the first time.


That risk increases if a child is already at risk for drug use and addiction because of academic or social difficulties.

Other Factors that Increase the Risk of Substance Use

The following factors also predispose people to addiction:

Early Use or Experimentation:

Research reveals that the earlier in life drug use begins, the greater the risk of long-term consequences such as addiction. This is primarily because of drugs’ harmful consequences on a child’s maturing brain circuits.

It may also result from a blend of social problems and biological risk factors, such as a troubled childhood, a history of physical harm or sexual abuse, genetic makeup, or a predisposition to developing mental illness.

Beginning drug usage at a young age is highly predictive of future difficulties, including addiction.

Mode of Administration:

A drug is more likely to cause addiction if it is smoked or injected.

Drugs enter the brain within seconds of inhalation or injection and trigger an intensely pleasurable response. The high can be exceptionally potent but can wear off within a few minutes.

Researchers believe this stark contrast compels some drug users to keep using in an attempt to replicate that euphoric experience.

What are the Warning Signs of Addiction?

The signs of drug and alcohol consumption or overuse are easily noticeable. However, some signs of addiction may take longer to emerge. Recovery rates improve dramatically when you identify substance abuse at an early stage.

Warning Signs of Addiction

Below are some of the most common addictive behaviors:

  • Loss of control
  • Continued drug use despite adverse effects
  • Putting off doing things that used to be necessary, such as spending time with loved ones, keeping fit, or pursuing other interests
  • Reduced productivity and attendance at work or school
  • Putting oneself in harm’s way to get high
  • Acting out when confronted about drug use
  • Taking extreme measures to conceal one’s drug use
  • Drastic changes to one’s hygiene or physical appearance
  • Increased tolerance
  • Withdrawal signs such as shaking, sweating, nausea, weariness, and agitation


Finding effective therapy is crucial if you feel drug abuse negatively impacts your life. If you are a loved one and are showing some of the signs above, it’s time to get help.

Addicted Definition: The Risk of Overdose

Drug overdoses are the top cause of mortality for Americans under 50. Drug overdose can either be intentional or accidental.

  • Accidental Overdose: When people take more of a prescription medicine than prescribed or take more of an illegal drug than intended, they risk experiencing an overdose.
  • Intentional Overdoses: Overdose deaths are often the result of a suicidal attempt. Any loss of life from an overdose is terrible, and any overdose can have chronic and long-lasting consequences.

What are the Physical Effects of Drug Addiction?

Substance use may affect various systems in the body. Overdose is just one of many dangerous medical consequences of drug abuse. The following are a few examples:

  • Circulatory problems
  • Spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Possible heart attack
  • Lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory illnesses
  • Discomfort in the belly, nausea, vomiting, and bowel changes
  • Injury to the kidneys and liver
  • Convulsions, stroke, or permanent brain damage
  • Changes sleeping habits
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Digestive problems
  • Malnutrition

Is Drug Addiction Treatable?

Drug addiction can be treated, but it’s not always easy. Addiction is a chronic disorder; therefore, abstaining from drugs for a short period will not result in recovery.

Stopping drug use

Most people need ongoing or repeated treatment to finally beat their addiction and get their lives back on track.

Recovering from addiction requires help in the following areas.

  • Stopping drug use
  • Staying drug-free
  • Being productive in the family, at work, or in the society

Substance Abuse Treatment Options

Recognizing that you have a problem with substance abuse is often the first step on the road to recovery. The next step is to locate an addiction treatment program that can effectively restore your health, happiness, and quality of life.

Our rehab facility offers a wide range of treatment options to choose from. For example, people with severe addictions must undergo a detox program first. Others may find it more beneficial to recover in an inpatient or outpatient rehab center.

It’s best to keep up with therapy and support groups after finishing treatment to help cement the positive changes you’ve made. There is no “one size fits all” method for overcoming addiction. Ensure that the therapy option provides all the resources you’ll need to recover fully.

Addiction recovery is a complex process because long-term sobriety requires significant self-control and determination. However, you don’t have to fight it alone. It is common for people in rehab to form close bonds with one another because of the shared experiences they share. Your loved ones are rooting for you and want what is best.

How much effort you put into beating addiction determines your success.

Types of Addiction Treatment Programs

Each patient has unique requirements and can benefit from a specialized treatment plan. Best-practice rehabilitation programs involve patients in every aspect of their care.

Inpatient or Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Inpatient rehab facilities provide a comprehensive treatment plan to treat addiction thoroughly. Inpatient treatment entails receiving medical and psychological help around the clock while living in a facility that strictly enforces a drug-free environment.

A person struggling with long-term addiction and those with co-occurring mental or behavioral disorders might benefit significantly from inpatient rehabilitation programs.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Comprehensive addiction care can also be found in outpatient rehabilitation centers. The treatments and therapies provided by these programs are just as successful as those offered by residential rehabilitation facilities.

These programs allow you to live at home while undergoing treatment. Clients have the flexibility to maintain their current responsibilities, such as job and family life while receiving therapy.

It is best to remember that outpatient facilities do not shield patients from the outside world, which may expose them to relapse triggers. Therefore, outpatient rehab is best for people with a mild addiction.

Outpatient Treatment Program

When combined with sober living houses, outpatient programs are a great transition program following inpatient treatment.


Detoxification facilitates a controlled withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. It’s usually the first step in treating those with moderate to severe addictions.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms can be reduced with medications during the detoxification phase. Detoxification usually entails gradually decreasing the dosage of the patient’s prescription medications until they no longer affect their physical dependence on the addictive substance.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living facilities provide a transitional living environment between hospitalization for substance abuse treatment and independent living upon discharge.

An excellent choice for those in recovery who want to spend more time hammering home the lessons they were taught in treatment. People in recovery benefit from living in a sober house because it provides a stable, supportive atmosphere in which they can focus on reinforcing their new, sober lifestyle.

Addiction Treatment Medications

Doctors may provide medications during detox and ongoing treatment to help recover. The goals of these drugs range from alleviating withdrawal symptoms and cravings to curing dual-diagnosis conditions.

Medications for addiction treatment are most effective when together with other methods.

Types of Therapies for Substance Addiction

Types of Therapies for Substance Addiction

Addiction treatment therapies are based on a person’s health, drug abuse patterns, and individual’s life experiences. Therapy options include individual and group therapy sessions usually planned by addiction counselors.

The most common therapies include:

  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Experiential therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
  • Psychodynamic therapy


After completing an addiction program, it’s highly recommended that a patient joins a support group. Support groups are instrumental in staying on the path toward recovery once you complete addiction treatment.

Various support groups are tailored to specific demographics or substances. Finding the right group provides a society of people that motivate and encourage each other to commit to sobriety.

Examples of support groups include 12-step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Get Help and Recover with Pathfinders

There are several medications and therapies available to aid you with every step of the healing process. Our rehab facilities offer ample psychosocial support through support groups and sober living communities.

Contact us today to learn more about addiction, effective treatment options, and our track record of helping clients maintain long-term sobriety. All calls are completely confidential, so please don’t hesitate to reach out now!


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