Many people often use term addiction very loosely. Some will say they are addicted to something simply because they like it too much or because it is something they like to do excessively. However, if it is something they can live without and it is not causing them any harm, it should not be considered an addiction.
An addiction is actually a compulsion to do something, be that taking drugs, drinking alcohol, gambling, shopping, or engaging in a particular sexual activity. Some individuals have an addiction to food, exercising or dieting. Those with an addiction to a substance or activity may become tolerant to the effects and, should they try to stop, they will typically experience withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction has been recognised as an illness because it alters the way the brain works. Those affected have an uncontrollable urge to use a particular substance or engage in a specific activity. They are often unable to function without this substance or activity. Unfortunately, addiction affects many people across the UK as well as the rest of the world.
Impact of Addiction
Those with no experience of addiction may wrongly believe that those with an addiction are the only ones affected. They may think that these individuals only have themselves to blame for taking the substance or becoming involved in a certain activity in the first place. Nevertheless, nobody chooses to be an addict. This illness occurs gradually over time, and once the way the brain functions has started to change.
It is important to realise that addiction affects many more people than just those with the illness. There is a school of thought that says that for every person that develops an addiction, there are five others who will be directly affected. In many instances, it is the friends and family members of the person with the addiction that will feel the knock-on effects. However, addiction can often affect the wider community as well.
How Addiction Affects the Sufferer
Those with addiction will be negatively affected in a number of ways. In the beginning, they may feel that the substance they are taking or the activity in which they are engaging actually helps to relieve certain feelings they may be experiencing. Nonetheless, once they have developed a tolerance and have become addicted, their life will begin to be seriously affected by their problem.
They may notice that their physical and mental health is affected. Depending on the addiction they have, the person could experience physical problems such as liver or heart disease. Mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and stress commonly affect addicts, as well.
Addicted individuals also find that their home and work life is affected as they begin to neglect relationships and responsibilities. They may suffer financial hardship while some will even lose everything to their addiction.
How Addiction Affects Family Members
Family members often suffer greatly when a loved one is affected by addiction. They will experience stress and heartache as they watch their loved one suffer in this way while they may even be subjected to verbal or physical abuse at the hands of the addicted individual. Family members will often suffer financially because of a loved one’s addiction, especially if it is a parent who should be providing for children but is spending all available funds on his or her addiction instead.
How Addiction Affects the Wider Community
Some addicts will become so desperate to get their hands on the drugs or alcohol they crave or the money to fund another addiction that they will steal or commit other types of crime. There are no victimless crimes, and they all have an impact on the wider community in one way or another.
Addiction can put extra pressure on the health service, which inevitably has a knock-on effect for other members of the community.
If you are affected by addiction, call Rehab Helper today for advice and information on the treatments available as well as how to access them.