What is Addiction?

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex disease, often chronic in nature, which affects the structure and function of the brain. It can be effectively prevented, treated and managed by medical, health professionals and other methods of treatment.

The Prevalence of Addiction

40 million Americans ages 12 and older—or more than 1 in 7 people—have addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is more than the number of Americans with heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). 

Addiction Language

Why do the words used to describe addiction matter? People use many words interchangeably when talking about addiction, including experimentation, use, misuse, hazardous use, excessive use, abuse and dependence. There is a need for standardized terms in order to clearly diagnose and determine the severity of addiction and risky use the way we do for cancer. The lack of precise terminology can prevent an individual from receiving appropriate treatment or brief intervention.

The term “substance abuse” also reinforces a sense of stigma or shame suggesting that people with addiction should be able to simply stop using substances rather than acknowledging that addiction is a serious disease which makes stopping extremely difficult. The stigma surrounding the term “substance abuse” may prevent at-risk people from seeking and receiving help. That is why Footprints of Serenity recently engaged terminology such as substance use and addiction.*

If you or a loved one have a substance use issue or an addiction to alcohol please do not hesitate to call us at 213-80-SOBER.  Our knowledgeable staff is ready to assist with more information or begin the journey of recovery with you.