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Addiction: 10 Facts You Need to Know

Updated on January 12, 2017
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

Rachael Christine Schlingmann 9/21/88 - 8/10/12 My sister. I lost her at the age of 23.
Rachael Christine Schlingmann 9/21/88 - 8/10/12 My sister. I lost her at the age of 23. | Source

Addiction Knows No Boundaries

Addiction doesn't recognize borders, nationality, race, color, age, love or hate. It touches millions of lives every day without cognizance or concern. When someone dies because of their addiction, It doesn't mourn, It feels no grief.

The truth about addiction is that you can become addicted to just about anything. It's not reserved for elicit or prescription chemicals and wayward activities or behaviors. When you hear the word "addiction" typically your brain produces very dark and horrid images when in reality, people can live somewhat functional lives for years before addiction finally wins.

There is no such thing as a professional addict. They don't grow old, they either quit, self promote or they die.

Take Care of You

Balancing your life is important in successful recovery. Don't get too caught up in pursuing your spiritual self that you don't take care of you.

The Choice to Choose Not to Use

The definition of addiction has changed drastically over the last 30 years. Historically addiction was reserved for persons who were chemically dependent with an equally adapted tolerance and propensity to experience withdrawal symptoms without the presence of the addictive chemical.

Today addiction it is widely recognized, understood and medically diagnosed for hundreds of reasons from chemical dependency, video games, shopping, eating chocolate, tanning, exercising, having plastic surgery or any behavior that is compulsive, repetitive and interferes with normal daily living and routines. Medical professionals consider this behavior maladaptive.

The more that is understood about addiction, the more experts agree that triggers may not be a conscious decision but rather derived from an unconscious process. Once thought to be the act of "free will", now addiction is believed to be a more primitive process. Human beings have pre-existing imperfections. Addiction not only complicates the functioning process but it compromises the ability to consciously select.

Heroin Addict shooting heroin intravenously
Heroin Addict shooting heroin intravenously | Source

Addiction is hereditary

If you have a parent who suffers from addiction, there is a 40-60% chance that you will develop some form of addiction in your lifetime. It's not a permission slip or by any means, a guarantee but there is some predisposition for addiction. Scientists believe that they can uncover the genetic solution to diseases including addiction. However, with the discover of the addiction genes came the discovery of literally hundreds of primary gene markers slowing the process dramatically.

Neurobiology has leaned heavily upon the tridimensional personality characteristics to unravel the behavioral dimensions of addiction: novelty seeking, harm avoidance and reward dependence. The TPQ test, or Temperament and Character Inventory, was developed by C. Robert Cloninger to examine and identify the personality traits of an individual.

Deal With The Problem Now

Experts no longer suggest that addicts have to wait until they've hit rock bottom to enter in to treatment or to get help. Just like in life, there is no perfect handbook for recovery so as opposed to being stripped of everything, starting as soon as a problem is recognized is important. The truth is, recovery is about personal readiness for the person in treatment. Caregivers can lend motivation and help it to thrive, but only to an extent. Caregivers have to have credibility and must be able to work with even the most severe cases or their ability to treat, help and bond with patients may be at risk.

Playing video games can be extremely addictive.
Playing video games can be extremely addictive. | Source

Addiction is Not the Isolated Problem

75-90% of people who are treated for drug or alcohol addiction have a concomitant. In fact, a significant number of people operate with multiple drug problems and co-existing psychiatric disorders. Over the last 30 years, studies have linked social phobia, major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as the three leading psychiatric disabilities that most commonly coexist with addiction. Today, they are so commonly diagnosed together that it's now considered normal.

For you, Sister.
For you, Sister. | Source

The Rate of Relapse is 8:10

Although many people experience substantial periods of stability and some recover, the majority of people with addiction will chronically relapse. Fewer than 10% of people who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction experience continuous abstinence following treatment. Part of the problem is that successful recovery requires an entire lifestyle change after treatment is completed and the expectations of people who surround the addict may be abnormally high and unrealistic, expecting that they are cured when in reality there is no cure for addiction. If the addict is returned to the environment where the addictive behavior occurred and was maintained, they are being set up to fail again. In order for things to change - everything has to change. You can't just dismiss the chemical and/or the behavior because it has become a learned response; a need that fulfills.

Different Therapies Work in Similar Ways

Before the introduction of pharmacology and medications that reduce the constant feelings of fixation, treatments were based on psychological intervention. After taking a closer look, researchers found that there was almost no differential outcome between people who took part in a 12-step program, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and social and behavioral network therapy.

Experts have found that the best predictors in therapeutic quality are:

  • Being able to offer solutions to problems.
  • Having credibility when relating to patients.
  • Challenging patients to be better emotionally.
  • Showing genuine interest in them as a person.
  • Having therapeutic skills such as reflection, knowledge, the ability to make accurate interpretations, and the ability to develop strong bonds.

Having a strong therapeutic affiliation is a good prediction of rehabilitative failure or success, including patients who suffer from co-morbidity.

The Magic Isn't in the Program

Don't mistake maintenance for motivation. It's not the program that saved you, it's the GOOD choice you made to get clean. You may have a long way to go but it's a good WAY TO GO!

Treatment Must be Based on the Individual

The more a treatment plan addresses the individual needs of a patient or subsequent addict, the more likely that it will lead to successful recovery. Treatment should not be based on one particular need such as the pharmacological need for treatment. Since there is such an overwhelming instance of co-morbidity and likely the need for other services such as vocational, legal, social, and family accommodations, it's important that treatment plans cover the comprehensive person and not just detox and therapy.

Cotton Candy comes out of this machine. Motivation is much harder to come by.
Cotton Candy comes out of this machine. Motivation is much harder to come by. | Source

Motivation Doesn't Come Out of a Machine

Many people describe the epiphany of recovery as "finding God." Recovery from addiction is no small feat. It requires hard work, discipline, the adaptation of new beliefs and life parameters and a spiritual reinvention of self. This effort has to be born 100% from the need for transformation. It cannot be handed to you, given to you, paid for, borrowed or taken as a medication. It's a hunger that comes up, almost an anger or exhaustion that is ready to be better; to be more alive and to let go of the "demons" or the "dragons" that exists within an addicted mind. Until this motivation arises out of the individual, there is a terrific risk of relapse. If this never happens, then recovery is temporary, and it always will be.

Victory at last.
Victory at last. | Source

Nothing is more expensive than regret. So don't.

If you think education is expensive, what do you think ignorance costs?

Change Takes Time

Recovery is forever. There is no cure for addiction so recovery is happening on a daily basis. For the addict, it's changing everything about the way they were living, thinking, feeling and doing; they have to learn to live again. It will become their new life's work. It's important that therapy be an ongoing process. It's even more important that family and friends remember that there will be mistakes made along the way but that doesn't mean failure is imminent. Recognize and applaud small successes and genuinely salute milestones. Keep your criticism silent. People know when they've made mistakes. They don't need reminders, they need support.


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    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      creativelycc, I am saddened to hear about your daughter. There's no way to understand death when it comes to young people and it's even harder when addiction is involved. Congratulations on paying-it-forward, it's definitely what we do to continue living in their memory and with love. Thank you for commenting and blessed be. -K.

    • creativelycc profile image

      Carrie L Cronkite 

      6 years ago from Maine

      My sincerest condolences on the loss of your sister. She was a beautiful girl. I can empathize with you because I lost a daughter in 2010, she was the victim of a homicide related to addiction. You are right when you indicated that addiction is no respecter of person. It affects men and women, young and old of every walk in life. A person has to make up their mind to change and get all the help they can on the road to recovery - which is a lifetime road. I started a program called Lena's House at my church in memory of my daughter Elena to help young women who are walking in recovery. It sounds like you are doing an excellent job at educating the public about this horrendous problem.

      Blessings to you!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      7 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      MDavisatatTIERS, thank you for reding and commenting. This subject did hit particularly close to home so I did a lot of studying up although I am by no means schooled on the subject. I've worked with juvenile delinquents for more than 25 years but not in this genre. After losing my sister, I desperately wanted to crossover and work with kids who had addiction problems but I didn't know where to begin. Thanks again for your input. -

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for offering this; personal disclosure touches people so much more than academic knowledge. Yet, you have many of the facts correct in this article as well.

      As a person with 25 years in recovery and working in the field for 20, it is the heart stories and memories that help another see the reality of their lives and can motivate them to make changes.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      John, Thanks for sharing that interesting piece of your history. I've been in that position many times as well...spoken those exact words. I have vices that I've adopted which I should probably take more seriously but I struggle to let go of because they're just not that severe. I've given up many negative things in my past that I had to give up but I can't let go of some of my simple addictions like my favorite pineapple popsicles and television, diet mountaindew and sweets. There are just a few things I'm holding on to. Cest la vie :) -K

    • Johnjfernando profile image


      8 years ago

      I never really had any serious ones other than smoking and a little drinking. Smoking got to the point where I couldn't get out from my troubles such as when I was depressed. I think you read the comment from your other article that I really liked. Smoking is probably the first and worst addiction simply because many teenagers start doing it in highschool in order to face peer pressure. Its easy to start and very hard to quit. You know the ironic part of the last line I just typed is that when I was a kid, me and my friends talked about addiction problems and I once remember saying: '....even if I start smoking, I can quit anytime because its not that hard to stop and I don't really know why everyone else struggle to quit' Alas! How, I was very wrong on that one. Nice article!

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      bankscottage, Thank you for your condolences as I offer mine in return. My sister's career began with prescription medication two years ago and she was introduced to heroin by her boyfriend. I'm learning a lot about her as now, as it seems to happen. I cannot imagine losing a child. My heart certainly aches for parents who grieve that loss. It makes me want to pull my kiddos close every single day. Thank you for reading and for leaving such an excellent comment. I appreciate the time you spent. -Kristi

    • bankscottage profile image

      Mark Shulkosky 

      8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I am so sorry for the loss of your sister at such a young age. We lost a son a little older a few years ago from a different reason. He also had schizophrenia. Prior to his diagnosis he had been "self-medicating" with drugs. Another psychoses to add to your list of potential contributors to addiction, particularly in young people.

      It isn't the illegal drugs that are just the problem. Prescription narcotic abuse is skyrocketing, particularly in young people (who often have to get the drugs through diversion). Older people get their meds from the doctor by complaining about their aches and pains. The results can be the same. Sometimes, it isn't even the narcotics that kill, directly or indirectly. The acetaminophen in combo with many oral narcotics, when taken in large amounts, can destroy your liver and end in death.

      By the way, Great Hub. Very interesting.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Nat Amaral, Thank you for your condolences. Addiction is so difficult. Congratulations to you. I wish you continued success. Changing your life is never easy. Food addiction is just as difficult as any other addiction. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. -K

    • Nat Amaral profile image

      Nat Amaral 

      8 years ago from BC Canada

      Very informative. My addiction is to food--I once weight 330 and I'm now down to 240. It wasn't easy (especially since I would have it under control only to relapse many times), but I managed. But my heart goes out to you about your sister. My condolences for your loss. She looked very beautiful and I'm sure she was a kind person.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Victoria, Thank you for your condolences, they are much appreciated. I miss her every day. I appreciate you sharing this and hope that it is helpful in some way. Thank you for reading and commenting. -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      DDE, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I agree that addiction is extremely difficult to cope with and often goes completely unnoticed. -K

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I am so sorry for the loss of your sister, but I am glad you are reaching out to others about this serious issue. This is a very important article you've written. I'm sharing it.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So true thanks for the valuable points oyu made in this Hub addicion is often not even noticed and when noticed it is difficul tto cope with

    • profile image

      Daphne Shadows 

      8 years ago

      Thank you. :D

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Daphne Shadows, Thank you for reading and commenting. The great thing is that you have a good perspective about it. Unfortunately it doesn't just hurt him, it hurts everyone who loves him and for that, I'm sorry you have to experience it. I wish you health, wellness and happiness always and I'm glad to have you here. -K

    • profile image

      Daphne Shadows 

      8 years ago

      I know an addict that is happy with his addiction and self deludes himself into believing he's NOT an addict and isn't hurting anyone.

      It's a great example and personal blow to experience, at least I know I'll always be on the look out for those same signs in myself in all paths of life so I don't hurt another like I've been hurt.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Glimmer, Thank you. It's definitely an issue that needs to be discussed. Glad to have your thoughts. -K

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      8 years ago

      Really well written and important hub. Thank you. Addiction can happen to anyone and can take many forms.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Eric, Thank you for the wonderful compliment. It's my hope that this will be heard as a song and not an argument. I think it's easy for people to judge those who are down-and-out and forget that they too, are flawed. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. -K

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      8 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Can there even be a doubt that some folks will read this and be helped immensely thereby? Somehow you were able to extract the ever important group meeting into a hub. Support, understanding, lack of preaching are all there.

      Many a "religious" person stands in judgment over the addict. When for almost religions, it is the addict that we are supposed to help the most. Education is key. But Love is the cure.

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you leah. I will take all of the love and kindness that is sent my way. It is so appreciated. I know that my sister's life would have been different if she would have been totally removed from her surroundings but staying in the atmosphere that was so comfortable and dangerous was what essentially led her back to heroin. It was her choice, I don't want that to be misunderstood but in her weakened state, she needed an exceptionally strong support system, and the system failed her...That's why I'm writing these hubs. I won't fail again. Thank you for leaving such a great comment and for reading. -K

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      meloncauli, I appreciate you thinking of me. That is so kind of you. :) I hope that you are feeling good?

      There is a surge of opiate misuse in the US and although the DEA and Federal Government have made radical movements, it's not only spreading, it's being used by younger people. Thank you taking the time to read through this and for voting and sharing. -K

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      8 years ago from Western New York

      This is a really useful guide, krsharp05 - it will definitely help someone. I agree with meloncauli - there needs to be more free-of-cost rehab clinics. Education is so vital and this is a wonderful way to help others - sending you hugs and thinking of you.

    • meloncauli profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Great, well written, informative article. A dual diagnosis is very common with substance misuse and a psychiatric illness. In the UK, we need many more free detox centres as there seems to be an appalling lack of these. Many end up in the psychiatric ward despite occasionally not actually having a major psychiatric illness. The taking up of precious mental health beds for detox use doesn't sit well with a lot of mental health patients. Great hub, voted up and shared.

      Hope you are doing ok :)

    • krsharp05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristi Sharp 

      8 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you, Spartucus. Doing these hubs has proven to be an outlet for me to feel like I can hopefully help someone since I was unable to help her. I don't want anyone to understand that same regret. It's forever. Thank you for reading and being here for me. I appreciate your continued support. -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      8 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very practical hub which could help a lot of people. As you mentioned education is key. We can't help our love ones if we don't understand what they are going through. I love what you wrote "If you think education is expensive, what do you think ignorance costs?".

      Even though I know it can be tough to share when we have been affected personally, I am hoping that the sharing is therapeutic. The pictures was a fitting tribute to your beautiful sister. Thanks for sharing.


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