Just the Facts: Addiction


Addiction affects about 1/8 of our population, that’s nearly 40-million people.  It is an equal opportunity disease affecting people of all races, cultures, genders, and socio-economic categories. 

What is Addiction?

In common terms, addiction is the inability to live without certain substances, and the buildup of dependency on them.   It can be both physical and psychological and can even be seen in certain behaviors.

What Causes Addiction?

  • There is no single cause
  • It can often result from coping with major negative experiences, including various forms of abuse, trauma, or life stressors. People grappling with painful feelings and emotions can be more vulnerable to slip into using alcohol or drugs to try to ease the stress or pain.
  • It rarely happens immediately. Most people are introduced to a substance gradually (socially, recreationally or experimentally) and desensitized to ever increasing quantities over time.
  • There is likely a strong genetic component to some forms of addiction –vulnerability to becoming addicted can run in families, and be inherited from your parents and grandparents

 How bad can addiction become and what are the effects?

The substance –

  • Becomes a predominant and central “master” in their life so they spend most of their time thinking about when and how to get it, and become dependent on it.
  • Can wreck not only the person’s life, but can also destroy relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • Can cause significant physical harm to the body and brain, including death.
  • Can result in criminal activity if the addiction outstrips the dollars available to buy it or get it
  • Can lead to self-harm or suicide.

What are treatment options?

  • The first step is the person who is struggling with addiction wanting to quit more than anyone else wants it for them.
  • The second step is to assemble support—clinical treatment and hopefully consistent support from family and friends.
  • Help is available in the form of medical attention, medications, psychotherapy, self-help groups, and spirituality.

The good news is that there is hope! Thousands upon thousands of people struggling with substance use and addiction have broken out of their cycle with proper treatment.  If you would like help in dealing with substance use, or know someone who needs help, you can call Jefferson Center at 303-425-0300 to connect with experts who can guide you on the path to recovery.