What is drug addiction?

Answer:  Addiction is a chronic disease.  It is a complex disease characterized by craving, seeking and using drugs. Addiction affects every organ system in the body, including the brain.  Repeated use of drugs changes the brain—including the way it looks and functions.  The changes in the brain interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control behavior, and feel normal without using drugs.

If drug addiction is a disease, is there a cure?

Answer:  There is no cure for drug addiction, but it is a treatable disease and millions of people are living lives in long-term recovery.  Recovery from drug addiction, like other chronic diseases, is a lifelong process.  Just as the addiction has impacted every aspect of your life physically, emotionally and socially, recovery requires making major changes to the way you live, deal with life’s problems, and relate to others.

Quick facts

  • Using marijuana can lead to illicit drug use
  • Using prescription drugs can lead to use of other opioids like heroin; which can ultimately take your life
  • You can become addicted even if you only use once in a while
  • The younger you start using drugs the more likely you are to become addicted
  • Addiction can also be a generational disorder
  • Using prescription drugs without a prescription is very dangerous and illegal
  • The earlier you stop using, the easier it is to stop substance abuse issues from occurring; prevention is key

Prevention Tips 4 Youth

Maintain strong family & other adult connections – this really allows you to learn from others' life experiences and get direction from those who care and support you when it is most needed.

Learn to what it means to live – if you need to use alcohol and drugs just to have fun in your life, then you are not doing it right. Life is already difficult and these substances can make it much more complicated than it needs to be. Instead of throwing out excuses, succeed in life by finding your true potential. Find that passion to go out and experience life the way life is supposed to be. Go out and get active in your own community, make a difference in someone else’s, check out your favorite band, get involved in sports, art, or even volunteering. By doing so, you will have a completely different perspective on life – one that can positively change your life forever!

Have a strong support group of friends – they say “you are the company you keep”  It is always best to be aware of the friends you are hanging out with.  If you surround yourself with positive and healthy people, you are far more likely to stay healthy as well.

Be a positive role model – when you are a positive role model in your own community, it is likely that you will impact the people around you. In doing so, you are likely making it easier for others to go down the right path as well. What you do today can make up much of your future. Are you heading in the right direction?

Speak out – people need to be aware of the substance abuse issues you are seeing or even going through. By speaking out, you can help stop what drugs and alcohol are doing to your friends and even your community.

Get educated about drugs – don’t stop your education with us. There are plenty of great resources out there that will help you understand the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. Check out a few links below:

Most importantly – don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Mental Health

Mental and substance use conditions often co-occur. In other words, individuals with substance use conditions often have a mental health condition at the same time and vice versa.

Approximately 8.9 million adults have co-occurring disorders; that is they have both a mental and substance use disorder
Only 7.4 percent of individuals receive treatment for both conditions with 55.8 percent receiving no treatment at all. (Reference)

If you have ever known someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, you are no stranger to the long road to recovery ahead of them. In fact, about 17.6 million Americans struggle with alcohol abuse every year and there are an average of 20 million illegal drug users every month.


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