The Disease of Addiction
What makes us addicts is the disease of addiction, not the drugs, not our behavior, but our disease. To understand drug addiction properly we must really understand what it is doing for us in our daily lives. Make no mistake, all the warnings, the dangers, the real dark side of drugs don’t always show up right away. They can creep up on you without you even knowing. There is something within us that makes us unable to control our use of drugs. This same “something” also makes us prone to obsession and compulsion in other areas of our lives. How can we tell when our disease is active? When we become trapped in obsessive, compulsive, self-centered routines, endless loops that lead nowhere but to physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional decay.
To start to understand drug addiction we have put together some self test questions for not only answering the question of am I an addict, but also to allow you to take a real look at what your life around drug or substance use may look like. These questions from Narcotics Anonymous help us understand that if there is unmanagebility in our lives, it is time to make some changes. To understand drug addiction you need to understand yourself.
It is amazing how all the warnings about using drugs, the dangers, the price, the consequences all don’t sink in until its almost too late at times. The good news is that there are many ways to stop. There are drug rehab centres, addiction treatment centres, addiction counsellors, psychologists and some doctors who are willing to help people recover from their addictions. But what is addiction really, and when do you know you’re an addict? When a person is addicted to a substance, such as a drug, alcohol or nicotine, they are not able to control the use of that substance. They continue taking it, even though it may cause harm (the individual may or may not be aware of the potential harm). Substance dependence can cause powerful cravings. The addict may want to give up (quit), but finds it extremely difficult to do so without help. The signs and symptoms of substance dependence vary according to the individual, the substance they are addicted to, their family history (genetics), and personal circumstances.
Our addiction can manifest itself in a variety of ways. When we first come to Narcotics Anonymous to try understand drug addiction, our problem will, probably, be drugs. Later on, we may find out that addiction is wreaking havoc in our lives in any number of ways. Please understand drug addiction creeps into ALL areas of your life sooner or later, much like an untreated cancer.
Self assessment questions:
These questions from NA are designed to help us understand drug addiction, and shine the spotlight on your situation. Keeping it simple take some time and write down your answers to these questions. See what comes up for you at the end, and then take the necessary actions to do something about it.
- What is the specific way in which my addiction has been manifesting itself most recently?
- .Have I been obsessed with a person, place, or thing? If so, how has that gotten in the way of my relationships with others? How else have I been affected mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally by this obsession?
- What does “the disease of addiction” mean to me?
- Has my disease been active recently? In what way?
- What is it like when I’m obsessed with something? Does my thinking follow a pattern? Describe.
- When a thought occurs to me, do I immediately act on it without considering the consequences? In what other ways do I behave compulsively?
- How does the self-centered part of my disease affect my life and the lives of those around me?
- How has my disease affected me physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Emotionally?
To understand drug addiction we must realize that addiction is always associated with symptoms that dependence on a substance has taken hold. However, these signs and symptoms of addiction are not always visible or immediately obvious. In fact, there are three different kinds of warning signs for addiction: physical signs, behavioral signs, and psychological signs. Understanding how these different symptom areas exhibit themselves can help you understand whether or not addiction has taken a hold on your life. No one needs to stay stuck.
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