How to Explain Addiction

How to Explain Addiction

Addiction is never a simple topic to discuss and at times can be hard to understand, especially if you don’t know an addict firsthand. Here at RAD Living Recovery Residences, we provide a safe space for men in recovery to live. We also provide information and resources for anyone struggling with addiction. Today we’ll discuss what addiction is, how it is identified / diagnosed, and why addiction needs to be treated in the long run. 

What Is Addiction?

There are many different ways to explain addiction. An addiction is a chronic disorder that is characterized by compulsive drug/substance seeking, continues to use even despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes within the brain. Addiction is considered both a mental illness and a complex brain disorder. 

According to the DSM-5, there are 10 or 11 diagnostic criteria occurring within a 12-month period. For an addiction to be considered a “mild” disorder the individual has to have two or three diagnostics criteria. For an addiction to be considered a “moderate” disorder an individual has to have four or five diagnostics criteria. For an addiction to be considered a “severe” disorder an individual has to have six or more diagnostics criteria. These diagnostic criteria include:

  1. The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control the use of the substance.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance, use the substance, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the substance, occurs.
  5. Recurrent use of the substance results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. The use of the substance continues despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of its use.
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of the use of the substance.
  8. The use of the substance is recurrent in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. The use of the substance is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:
  1. A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
  2. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.
  1. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:
  1. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for that substance (as specified in the DSM-5 for each substance).
  2. The use of a substance (or a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Why Does Addiction Need to Be Treated in the Long Run?

Addiction needs to be treated in the long run because many addicted individuals also have a co-occurring disorder which needs to be treated as well. Treating the substance abuse disorder or addiction may contribute to the lessening of the co-occuring disorder, or mental disorder, symptoms. Another reason addiction needs to be treated in the long run is because drugs of abuse can alter the brain’s structure and function. This can result in changes that can continue long after an individual ceases taking the drug. It is important to catch an addiction early so that it does not alter too much of the brain’s structure and function. In saying this, research has shown that individuals need at LEAST 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce/stop their drug usage.

How RAD Living Recovery Residences Can Help

RAD Living Recovery Residences is a sober community for men in recovery. We pride ourselves of providing a safe and sober living space for any man looking to maintain their sobriety. After addiction treatment ends, the real work begins. It’s important that anyone in recovery has a transitional place to live while adjusting to life after treatment.  Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of sober living & how we can help you today!