Understanding Addiction

It’s important for everyone to understand addiction. When we’re blind to its power, we’re more vulnerable to its effects. Additionally, it’s important for family and loved ones to understand how addiction works so that they can best help their loved ones during the journey to recovery.

The Disease Model of Addiction

Addiction is a mental illness that affects the way the brain processes risk, reward, motivation, and memory. Addiction changes the way that we make decisions and interact with others. It’s a mistake to think that addiction is simply a weakness, or a problem with impulse control. Additionally, it’s a mistake to think that anyone struggling with addiction fits the stereotypical model of an addict. Many people struggling with addiction are high-functioning and don’t give many outward signs of an internal struggle.

Phases of Addiction

Addiction is characterized by a few distinct phases, and because it’s more of a process than an event, many people are unaware of the danger until they’re in too deep to get out by themselves.

The first stage is exposure and experimentation. It’s important to note that not everyone who is exposed to a substance will develop an addiction, and use is not the same as dependence. However, gradually the body and mind develop tolerance, wherein they become less reactive to the effects of the substance, and more and more is needed in order to achieve the same effects. This can easily lead to dependence, wherein the body and mind actually rely on the substance in order to function normally. This reliance is emotional, mental, and physical.

Commonly Abused Substances

Addiction can look different and function differently, depending on which substance is being abused. Often, people have co-occurring disorders and utilize several different substances. Here are some commonly abused substances for which we treat patients:

  • Prescription Painkillers
    • Oxycodone
    • Codeine
    • Fentanyl
    • Morphine
  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana (cannabis)
  • Inhalants
  • Ecstasy (MDMA/Molly)
  • Hallucinogens
  • Prescription stimulants
    • Amphetamines (i.e. Adderall® etc.)
    • Methylphenidate (i.e. Ritalin® etc.)

If you, or a loved one, is dealing with addiction, you’re not alone. Here at Renaissance Ranch, we’ve been leading the charge for addiction recovery in Utah for many years. Call us to learn more about our outpatient programs.