ASL – What is Drug and Alcohol Addiction?

What Is Drug and Alcohol Addiction? When someone can't stop taking a drug or drinking alcohol, even if he or she wants to, it's called addiction or substance use disorder This is a disease

Addiction is not simply a weakness When people start taking drugs or drinking alcohol, they don't plan to get addicted They like how the drug or alcohol makes them feel They believe they can control how much and how often they use it However, drugs and alcohol change the brain

Drug and alcohol users start to need it just to feel normal It can quickly take over a person's life, becoming more important than the need to eat, sleep or take care of themselves The urge to get and use the drug can fill every moment of a person's life, replacing all the things the person used to enjoy They are unable to control the addiction It is that powerful

Drug and alcohol addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law The person might do almost anything — lie, steal or hurt people — to keep using This could get the person arrested Addiction affects people from all walks of life More than 20 million Americans have a drug or alcohol problem

It can happen at any age, but it usually starts when a person is young Children of addicts are more likely to become addicts themselves, and people who start using drugs or alcohol in their teens are at higher risk for addiction Some people are more at risk for addiction because of differences in their brain systems Home environments, social environments and the presence of other mental conditions, such as depression, also influence whether someone may develop a substance use disorder But with addiction treatment, or rehab, most people can be helped

When drug or alcohol use is out of control, treatment is needed Recovery supports are important as a follow up so the person can maintain a life beyond their addiction Without help, the addiction will probably get worse

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