Addiction is a chronic disease that currently affecting the lives of nearly 10% of adults in the United States. Addiction is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. These substances can include alcohol, tobacco, opioids (painkillers or heroin), prescription drugs (such as anti-anxiety medications or sleeping pills), marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, and other substances. Addiction is different for everyone. It has a different set of symptoms and effects on the body and each addiction has different options for treatment.

Addiction affects a person’s judgment, decision-making, reaction to stress, memory, ability to learn, and behavioral control by changing the structure and function of the brain. It is an involuntary response to a stimulus by the individual and should be treated as a medical condition. While the initial decision to take drugs may be voluntary, after continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control is seriously impaired. Studies indicate that biological changes in decision-making areas of the brain are brought on by long-term opioid abuse, which further diminishes an addict’s ability to maintain self-control.

Individuals needing help should have the support, patience, and understanding of those that care about them and should be encouraged to seek help from a specialist. Similar to interacting with individuals who have other diseases, compassion, encouragement, and positivity are a source of motivation to get treatment and help to provide resolve to stay in treatment.