According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) addiction is a brain disease that is characterized by:
- Compulsive behaviors to get and use drugs or alcohol
- Continuing to use drugs or alcohol despite obvious harms from that use
- Changes in the brain’s structure and neural processes
Although people initially choose to use and even abuse drugs or alcohol, once a person becomes addicted, changes in the brain remove a lot of ‘personal choice’ from the equation. Most people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol require professional substance abuse treatment to achieve remission and recovery.1
What’s the Difference between Substance Abuse and Addiction?
People with both substance abuse and addiction consume drugs or alcohol (or have problem behaviors, such as gambling) in ways that cause them harm, and people with substance abuse problems are at risk of developing an addiction.
But an addiction is more…
An addiction is a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive actions and a loss of control over use. People addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to use (or drink) despite the harms obviously done by that use and will generally crave their substance of choice.
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