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Our phone line is staffed by knowledgeable rehab specialists ready to assist you. From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday to Friday, and all day Sunday, a specialist from DRS will answer your calls. Outside these hours, your calls will be handled by a rehab specialist from “Together We Can,” a treatment facility in BC, ensuring you receive support whenever you need it.

What Is Addiction?

Last updated on: Monday, 13 May 2024
  • What You'll Learn

Addiction is an obsession or compulsion for a substance or a habit that lowers the survival potential of the person and in some cases will ruin someone’s life or even kill him. Addiction can be physical and psychological such as street drugs, alcohol, and medication. It is normally associated with the use of substances but it is compulsive. Other addictions are related to substances such as gambling problems, computer addiction, etc. With these common usages; the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by a person to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to his health, mental state, or/and social life.

Street Drug Addiction

Street drug addiction affects both physical and physiological dependence. The individual becomes addicted when his use is irrational, and out of control. He wants to stop, but cannot, even though it destroys his life, family job, etc. When the person stops, he will end up in a period of withdrawal. It can be severe or not; depending on the drug used he was addicted to, the amount used, and the subsequent period of use before they ceased the drugs. Some street drugs such as heroin are very hard to stop, and in some instances, medical attention is safer. It is always good to get a medical okay to stop on his own or to do a social detox. After having gone through detox, it would be preferable that the recovering addict attends a drug rehab to fully rehabilitate him.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Abuse of prescription drugs is spreading at an alarming pace throughout Canada. The most commonly prescribed drugs used are painkillers such as oxycodone, methadone, Demerol, morphine, etc. The withdrawal symptoms when someone ceases to use of these particular drugs are some of the toughest and more intense. It can even be life-threatening in some of them on a high dosage and prolonged usage. Always see a medical professional when you want to cease the use of a prescription drug. Most of the time people cannot enter a drug rehab without proper detox from their prescription drugs.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol is the most common addiction in Canada after tobacco. The fact that it is legalized and accepted by our society is a major factor in the number of individuals inflicted by it. Alcohol addiction is in the condition that will result in the prolonged usage of alcoholic drinks despite health problems and negative social adverse effects. Detoxing from long term alcohol addiction is one of the toughest and life-threatening substances to stop. If you drink daily and for a prolonged period, always seek medical consultation to cease to drink completely. Some people seek the help of other people through group counseling and other alcohol treatments.

Generally speaking, addicts are using alcohol or other drugs to find happiness and relief from failures in unsuccessfully handling life challenges. Escaping from these failures through alcohol and other drug uses are there only moments of feeling normal. They believe that life’s problems are insurmountable, and they have a history of failed attempts at trying to win in life.

When a person is unable to handle different aspects of life and feels hopeless in his efforts, he will many times find relief from his disappointments with alcohol and other drugs.

Sometimes it is a simple as an inability to have fun or join in group activities, or the common idea that a person must have a couple of beers at night to unwind from the stress of work.

Naturally, someone who has a few beers in the evenings isn’t a candidate for residential treatment, but people with this profile may find themselves resorting to larger amounts of alcohol or drugs when they are confronted with an overwhelming life problem. They have taught themselves that mind-altering drugs are a solution, and they will resort to larger amounts of alcohol and drugs in an attempt to confront these situations better.

The moment that a person finds release from his worries with alcohol and drugs, he is very likely to become dependent on these substances to ‘handle’ emotional challenges.

So, what indicators do you look for in determining whether someone needs alcohol and other drug treatment?

A typical scenario would be a young adult, (we will call him Johnny), that is shy and any communications with peers or asking for a date, causes him a problem since he wants to be liked and be part of his community of friends, but his inability to communicate his feelings causes him to retreat from social interaction. However, Johnny finds that when he has a beer or more or smokes some marijuana, he becomes talkative and friendly and others like his interactions. He feels wrong about only being able to communicate after he is high on alcohol or other drugs, but when he attempts to be part of his group without his drugs, he stumbles and is ridiculed.

Ultimately, Johnny falls in love and gets married, and he tells himself that he must slow down on his use of alcohol and drugs, but whenever he does he finds himself in conflicts with his new family, and he resigns himself to ‘needing’ these substances to survive. Since Johnny’s judgment is impaired from his continual substance abuse, he creates more problems that require more able communications to handle, but he hasn’t the skills to do so. His solution has become his problem, and these actions bring on more and more problems to the point that he feels afraid of losing everything and his only moments of peace are when he is exterior to his life by being high enough to care no longer about the important issues that need his attention.

Johnny decides to seek help from his family physician, who seems to understand and prescribes him medications such as anti-anxiety drugs, like Zanax, or anti-depressants. Johnny seems better and is happier for a while, but he soon finds that these drugs work better when combined with his other drugs-of-choice, and his life continues to unwind rapidly. Johnny’s wife and family can’t understand him, nor he them, so he finds friends at the bar and elsewhere who also cannot be understood by the sober and sane society.

At this point, professional help is the only way to help him understand how these substances are his problem and to help him rebuild his life free of mind-altering drugs of any kind.

Now, whether or not this rebuilding of his life will be successful is predicated on the ability of the treatment modality to repair addicted lives.

Mental health and alcohol and drug treatment do not have a history of predictable successes with patients like Johnny. Everyone has heard someone say that ‘treatment doesn’t work’, and certainly this is true in too many cases. Johnny’s first treatment from his family doctor only hastened his decline, and it is certainly true that this treatment didn’t work.

As it often happens in the medical community, when treatment continues to fail, the patient or the problems get classified as incurable. This is the origin of addiction being a chronic and progressive disease, which means that it will continue throughout one’s life and will progressively get worse with time, even if a person quits alcohol or other drugs.

So, Johnny’s family does an intervention to wake him up to the fact that he is going to spend his life in jail or be dead if he doesn’t handle his addiction. If Johnny goes to one of these treatment modalities where addiction is seen as a disease, then he will be told that only one in ten of you will change your lives, that ‘once an addict, always an addict’. Johnny hasn’t been able to confront anything of consequence in his life, and now he is given this sour pill to swallow! Most people, like Johnny, just resign themselves to the idea that they will continue to fail in life, and that they are a burden to themselves and their loved ones.

This shouldn’t be the outcome of treatment, but it many times is. Therefore, you must find a treatment that works!




More Information

Nickolaus Hayes has been working with Drug Rehab Services for the past ten years. Over the past 15 years, he has remained connected to helping people who have been struggling with addiction. He first started working as an intake counselor at a drug rehabilitation center in 2005. During the five years as an intake counselor, he was able to help hundreds of people find treatment. Nickolaus was also fortunate to be able to work with professional interventionists, traveling across the country performing interventions.