What is Addiction?
Did you know that in the United States alone, 40 million
people ages 12
and older abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other
drugs? The percentage among the Canadian population is similar.
Addiction is a disease that’s usually chronic in nature. It affects
how the brain and body function, and it’s characterized by
compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use even in the
face of harmful consequences.
Addiction causes changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting
and lead to harmful behaviours. Drug addiction is also
characterised as a relapsing disease where people return to drug
use after trying to stop.
What are the Symptoms and Causes of Addiction?
One of the leading causes of substance abuse stems from an
unhealthy way to manage your emotions. Addiction can begin when you
acquire the wrong tools to cope with the emotional and/or physical
pain that you might feel during a particular moment in your life.
Everyone needs to bond and connect, and often it’s a lack of
genuine personal connections with others that creates a dependency
on substances that bring relief.
The primary symptom of addiction is the recurrent use of a
substance or engaging in an activity that leads to impairment or
distress. Some symptoms include:
- Using a substance or engaging in an activity for longer periods
or in larger quantities than intended.
- Wanting to stop but unable to do so.
- Dedicating too much time to pursuing the substance or
- Strong cravings.
- Disrupting your obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued use of the substance or activity despite
For a full list of symptoms, click here.
Experts agree that you must show signs of at least two symptoms to
be considered addicted. How severe your condition is depends on the
number of symptoms you show. Two to three symptoms typically
indicates a mild condition, while four to five symptoms mean a
moderate disorder, and six or more symptoms is considered a severe
case of addiction.
Can Addiction be Treated?
Fortunately, addiction can be treated. However, treating addiction
is not simple. Since addiction is a chronic disease, it’s not
possible to simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured.
Most people require long-term or repeated care to recover fully
from addiction and stop using entirely.
Effective treatment for addiction will help you stop using drugs,
stay off drugs for the rest of your life, and allow you to be
productive at home, at work, and in society.
There are several ways to treat addiction including the use of
medication, behavioural counseling, medical devices used to treat
withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training, and evaluation and
treatment for mental health issues like depression and anxiety that
can cause addiction.
For example, medical professionals have been prescribing drugs to
treat addictions for many years. Buprenorphine and naloxone
are most commonly prescribed to treat opioid
addiction as it helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings,
without the same “high” or associated psychosocial effects of using
However, some medical experts
ancient plant medicines can treat addiction even
better than pharmaceutical drugs. For instance, Ayahuasca
is a psychotropic
plant medicine blend that comes from the Amazon and has been used
by native Amazonian tribes for centuries for a variety of medicinal
and spiritual purposes.
Ibogaine is another plant-based medicine that some experts believe
is very effective for treating addiction. Ibogaine is a
psychoactive alkaloid that occurs naturally in the West African
shrub iboga. In small doses, it’s a mild stimulant, but in larger
doses, it induces a profound psychedelic state, which can be useful
for interrupting addictions and even more efficient for breaking
destructive habits and behaviour patterns.
Those who support the use of plant-based medicines to treat
addictions believe it’s a better alternative because it frees the
addict from drugs of all kinds instead of prescribing a legal drug
to replace the illicit one.
Radio show was aired on Realityradio101.com on Thursday,
September 26, 2019 at 1 pm EDT