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Addiction 101: Things a "Normal Person" Should Know

Addiction is a tricky disease to have and explain to others. People who experience addiction don’t always recognize the symptoms of it themselves, especially when they are still using. That’s why experts also refer to it as a “substance use disorder” – it is more complicated than a physical disease and creates disordered thinking. In other words, it causes changes in the brain and that, in turn, causes changes in the addicted person’s behavior.

When you love a person who has a drug problem, you go through a lot of pain of your own. Watching them use no matter what, helping bail them out of bad situations, and coping with the way they change can be very difficult. You may wonder if you can ever understand or trust them again. Addiction is a painful disease for everyone.

What You Need to Know About Addiction

There are a lot of other aspects of addiction that are still being explored by science. A person who uses drugs may also have mental health issues. They may have legal problems, lie incessantly, or manipulate their loved ones as they continue to use.

Here are some other things a “normie” should know about addiction:

  • “Willpower” is a myth. A person who is addicted to alcohol or drugs can’t “will” themselves to stop using any more than a person with heart disease can “will” themselves to achieve perfect health. Addiction needs to be treated, and it affects the body, mind, and spirit. Many people who are addicted to drugs want to stop using, but can't do it on their own.
  • Addiction is a disorder. Like mental health disorders, addiction is a disorder that has specific behavior patterns. It’s also a physical disease. Understanding addiction as a disease will help everyone in the addicted person’s life. While they are not responsible for their illness, they are responsible for their life in recovery.
  • Their behavior is their own responsibility. People who have a substance use disorder may lie, manipulate or steal to get more of their drug of choice. While this is because they have a disease, they will often get worse if you enable them by giving in to their demands, give them money, or otherwise assisting them in ways that getting high is easier.
  • Addiction changes the brain. Drugs like opioids especially cause physical changes that make the body crave more, and it essentially “protests” when the drug is taken away. The physical cravings can be literally painful. Withdrawal occurs with almost any drug, and admitting an addicted person to a detox program is the safest way to for them to get drugs out of their system, and enter treatment.
  • Recovery is possible. Just like all diseases, addiction can include relapse and may take a while to go into remission. Your loved one needs treatment and the support provided by peers in recovery will need to be a part of their lives from treatment on out.

Addiction is not curable, but it’s treatable. Learning new life skills and coping skills helps people develop a program of recovery for life. Recovery is possible, no matter what or how much a person gets drunk or high.

Do you or somebody you love need help for their drug or alcohol problem? Please give us a call. We’re happy to answer any questions about our program or recovery/treatment in general. All calls are confidential, so please reach out at: (949) 279-1376 (United States) or (612) 153-5726 (Mexico).



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Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.