What Is Addiction?(written by Dr. John Bledsoe)
Addiction has been defined as an "abnormal attachment to a behavior or chemical that produces compulsion and shame with a consistent and progressive deterioration of the ability to function." The following information on addiction is limited to mood altering drugs, including alcohol.
Addiction is a self-imposed condition created by the abuse of drugs including alcohol. Some treatment providers define addiction as "loss of control." Loss of control is not addiction. Rather it is a symptom of addiction. When addicts lose control over their behavior and actions, it is the result of flawed decisions or irresponsible actions. As a result they surrender their lives to the control of the drug. For some people loss of control is gradual. In other cases the opposite is true. Scores of people become psychologically and/or physically addicted quickly.
Addicts begin with the experimental use of alcohol or others drugs. They drink alcohol or try drugs because of curiosity or a dare. Some move from experimental to social use. These individuals drink alcohol or use drugs socially when they are with the peers or friends. The next level of usage is called instrumental. Individuals often reach this level when they drink or use drugs to change their mood. These individuals are likely to move quickly to habitual use. These individuals use regularly because they want to control their mood or feel they need the drug to feel "normal." The final level is the compulsive use of alcohol or drugs. Everyone that reaches this level is full blown addict. They cannot stop without help because they have to have the drug.
Are individuals addicted the first time they use methamphetamine? Some addicts report becoming addicted to methamphetamine the first time they used the drug. Others indicate the opposite is true. Their addiction to methamphetamine came after several uses of the drug. Addiction is a complex condition. Because of the differences in individuals several factors are involved. Below are three factors that affect addiction to methamphetamine.
The first factor is the strength, amount, and frequency of the methamphetamine used. In large measure this determines the degree of abuse, dependence, and addiction to this devastating and destructive drug.
Another factor is the genetic predisposition for addiction. This inherited predisposition makes individuals more susceptible to addiction to methamphetamine and other mood altering drugs than individuals without this genetic trait. Studies have proven that children of alcoholics and drug addicts are more likely to become addicted to methamphetamine than children of non-addicts.
Another significant factor involved is addiction to other mood altering drugs. These individuals are most likely to become addicted to methamphetamine the first time they use the drug.
A genetic predisposition for addiction does not remove responsibility for the addiction. The fact that alcoholism is labeled a disease in no way relieves alcoholics of their responsibility to change addictive behavior.