How Common is Addiction?

Addiction Is More Common Than You Think

Many people at some point in their lives become addicted to something. Whatever the substance, addiction is pervasive across all demographics. Addiction is more prevalent than you may think. One in 10 Americans reports having some sort of drug problem, a statistic that has increased from the previous years. With such a large number of the population facing substance use disorder, it’s important to understand why and what you can do about it.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is one of the most common forms of addiction that comes to mind whenever people think of an addictive problem. Substance abuse can be classified as anything that someone puts into their body to give them a high. Legal or illegal substances can be used to help someone escape from their reality. It provides them with the ability to feel better about themselves, but in reality, it may make their underlying problems worse.

There are many substances that people use to alter their mind and body, one of the most common being alcohol. Drinking alcohol has led to scores of problems around the world. Along with deteriorating your health, it may change who you are as a person and can lead you to alienate your friends and family. Over 10 percent of families in the United States have a family member who abuses alcohol. This exposure can lead to the development of alcohol problems for children in the future too. It is a cycle that is hard to break.

There are other substances that people ingest to experience a high. Illegal drugs have been known to cause a variety of problems in a person’s personal and professional life. Over 47.7 million people used illegal drugs in 2017, and 36 million of those people abuse crack cocaine. Drugs have been known to ruin jobs, families and personal growth. Much like alcohol, drugs are incredibly difficult to stop using. The addictive properties of these drugs make it so that you need to continue using them before you experience a health-threatening withdrawal, and you may need even more overtime to get the same high. This is why people tend to increase the dosage of the drug of their choice before they decide to quit.

There are many pitfalls of abusing substances to escape reality. The most prevalent problem is increasing your usage of substances. Your tolerance toward these substances increases the more that you use them, which means that you have to increase the dosage to achieve the high that you want to feel. This can be an incredibly detrimental problem to the body. Misusing legal or illegal substances can cause massive amounts of harm to the body. Couple this with an increase in dosage, and you could have a variety of health problems presenting themselves. Unfortunately, people who abuse substances find it difficult to stop using them.

Brain Activity on Drugs

Each and every one of us has a reward system instilled into our psyche. The brain releases a feel-good chemical whenever we do something we perceive as good. However, drugs have a tendency to override this euphoric feeling and give it upon command. It floods the brain with dopamine and allows you to feel an instantaneous high. This can completely derail your life if drugs begin to take over. The reward system is set in place for health reasons. It motivates us to excel at our jobs, win over people we are interested in and continue pressing forward towards our goals. The brain begins to go haywire if it is constantly bombarded with dopamine and cannot actively sustain the reward system that has been put into place.

As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts and reduces the cell’s abilities to respond properly to rewards. This gradually reduces the high that a person feels whenever they constantly take drugs. This means that a person must increase the dosage that they regularly take in order to feel a high that they once felt. This can become increasingly dangerous for the body. Regular drug usage can begin to negatively affect the rest of the body and cause a variety of problems.

Long-term drug use can also cause a variety of chemical imbalances in the brain and lead to problems with the following:

  • Making proper judgment
  • Stress management
  • Memory
  • Behavior control
  • Generalized decision making

Unfortunately, people continue to take drugs regardless of the problems that they present. This is the nature of addiction and how it takes over the mind.

Why Are Some People Prone to Addiction While Others Aren’t?

There is no single factor that can conclude whether or not a person will be affected differently from addiction. There are dozens of risk factors that play a role in how a person will respond to addiction.

  • Biology: Genes play a part in how we respond to addiction. Gender, ethnicity and mental disorders can cause a person to become more susceptible to addiction than others. It is important to keep an eye out for these problems if you know someone who is at risk.
  • Environmental Causes: Many people have self-destructive tendencies due to their environment. Stressors such as living with someone who is toxic, having a stressful job or being in a detrimental relationship can cause someone to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. There are many stress management tools available to help people overcome these problems before they turn to drugs.
  • Developmental Causes: Young children as susceptible to addiction problems earlier than we think. A troubled upbringing may bring about drug use when they become teenagers to escape the trauma that they have faced. Children who have drug addicts as parents may also subconsciously mimic them if that is all they have ever known.

As mentioned, certain groups of people tend to struggle with substance abuse. In terms of ethnicity, 11% of Native Americans had recently used drugs, while 7% of African-Americans and 6.5% of Caucasians had as well. Those who identify as a sexual minority, are even more likely to abuse drugs than ethnic minorities. In fact, 39% of the population abuse substances.

The Difficulties of Quitting

Human beings are habitual creatures. We like to do the same thing day in and day out. It creates a comfortable lifestyle that we can rely on. The same goes for addiction. The highs that we experience from our personal addictions make it so that we don’t want to quit. It can make us completely ignore the negatives that the addiction is doing to our lives. In the case of drugs and alcohol, some of the addictive properties come from the drug itself. They are designed to keep you on the drug longer by altering the chemicals in your brain.

Having the willpower to quit is an incredible feat that most people struggle with every day. They know in their minds that they need to quit but are lacking the willpower to do so. It is an unfortunate reality that people must face if they are to help their loved ones with addiction problems. All too often, the addiction itself takes over a person’s mind and personality. A family or friend may become a person you don’t recognize and can create rifts in your relationship. Sometimes, people will not realize they need help until their close relationships have deteriorated.

Treatment Is Always an Option

If you often feel lost due to addiction, you are not alone. Of all people that struggle with substance use disorder, only 11 percent seek treatment. Many people feel as if they are trapped and can never escape the endless cycle of wanting to quit and being unable to. However, there is always help to wait for you just around the corner. Treatment for addictive problems can help you get your life back on track. There are people that can help you overcome whatever addictive problems that are plaguing your life. Whether you are experiencing drug issues or alcohol misuse, there is always professional help that can give you the resources to live a better life. However, a person must want to receive treatment to help them recover. Forcing someone to recover is not the best course of action as they may simply relapse back into their old ways.

Helping Someone Recover

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. This means that the person you want to help must be willing to receive help for their addictive habits. The best way to achieve this is to approach them with patience and love. Avoid scolding an individual as this may cause them to push you away. Try to hold an intervention and explain to them why you care for them and how treatment is the best course of action. It may take time for them to see the problems that their addiction is causing them. However, this is by far the most effective way to help them take the first step towards recovery.


Almost every single addict who has ever attempted to quit has faced the problem of relapse. To relapse is to fall into the drug addiction once again. However, this is completely normal and should not be condemned by family members. A person who is trying to receive proper treatment for recovery will face relapse many times before they eventually quit. Relapse is just an indicator that a person needs more time in therapy to overcome their drug problem.

Can You Completely Cure Addiction?

One of the most debated topics when it comes to recovery is whether treatment is a cure. Being addicted to drugs is a psychological state of mind that will carry over with the user for the rest of their lives. This is why the development of healthy habits in rehab is important to keep an individual off of drugs whenever they are there. It is up to the recovering individual to maintain a healthy lifestyle once they have left rehab. Continuing therapy may help them stay on track.

Support Groups

Fortunately, there are many support groups available for people who have finished their rehabilitation sessions. These support groups aim to help recovering individuals remain drug-free and find healthy alternatives to implement into their life. It is incredibly important that recovering individuals find solace in others who they can relate to. This will help them build a sense of community and find like-minded people to turn to in the event that they feel the urge to use again.

Overcoming Addictive Habits

Trying to get rid of addictive tendencies is an issue that many struggle with. While it is a hard thing to overcome, help is available. Recognizing the problem is the key to taking a step toward recovery. All problems can be overcome with time, patience, training and love.