Is drug addiction a disease? In 2011, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) adapted the following definition of addiction:
“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
Since 2011, the public understanding and acceptance of addiction as a chronic brain disease and the possibility of remission and recovery have increased. At the same time, there is growing acknowledgment of the roles of prevention and harm reduction in the spectrum of addiction and recovery. In response, ASAM recognized the need for an updated definition of addiction.
Updated Definition of Addiction:
”Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.
Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.”
Risk and protective factors associated with addiction:
There are several risk and protective factors associated with developing substance use disorders (medical, personal, family and community).
- Genetic predisposition
- Family history of substance use
- Psychiatric disorders
- Low social support
- Interpersonal conflict with others
- Norms, customs and policies that promote substance use
- Strong social skills
- Problem solving skills
- Sense of purpose
- Positive sense of self
- Trust and lack of severe criticism within family
- Involvement in activities not involving substance use
- Skills to resist negative influence of peers
- Reasonably high expectations at school/work
Information for Families
Healing the Family
We know that the effects of alcohol and drug use are not limited to the individual and the disease affects the whole family. Addiction creates interpersonal problems for all family members: conflict with partner and children, money problems, emotional trauma or violence. We fully support fostering healing for all involved and believe that treatment offers opportunity to rebuild those relationships.
We offer family support groups to anyone seeking information about addiction or to support a loved one who is struggling with this disease. Social support is the single most effective way to help people in recovery stay sober. Families and friends are more likely to provide such support if they are engaged in the treatment process and have an opportunity to ask questions, share their concerns and experiences and learn practical coping strategies and behaviors to avoid.
To find out more about addiction and what treatment looks like, please join us for one of our open sessions. Classes are held every weekend and topics include:
- Health Communication Skills
- Enabling & Detachment
- Setting Healthy Boundaaries
- Codependency & Family Roles
- Relapse Prevention
- Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Supports
Call us today at 856-942-3700 to learn more. Your New Life Awaits! We can help.