Understanding Alcoholics and Drug Addicts

photo of a young distressed woman sitting on the ground contemplating with her head resting in her arm - breakaway hired power - understanding alcoholics and drug addictsUnderstanding alcoholics and drug addicts can be perplexing. Family members and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts struggle to understand the behaviors they see. As alcoholics and drug addicts’ addictions progress, their lives become more and more unstable. The entire family is affected by the addiction. Health, finances, relationships, career, overall well-being and quality of life of all untreated alcoholics and drug addicts only deteriorates with time. Understanding alcoholics and drugs addicts and the disarray of their lives is hard if you don’t have a basic understanding of addiction.

What is Addiction?

Understanding alcoholics and drug addicts first requires understanding that addiction is a brain disease. It is not a choice. Addiction meets all of the medical criteria of other chronic diseases. It is a primary condition unto itself. That means that it would remain even if all external contributing factors were removed. It is chronic which means that there is no cure. It is progressive and gets worse with time if treatment is not received. And it’s fatal. Alcoholics and drug addicts will die of the disease if it is not halted with professional treatment.

Why doesn’t the person just stop drinking or using drugs?

Understanding alcoholics and drug addicts also requires understanding that the condition is part of their physiology. Using alcohol or drugs is a compulsion for them. The urge to take in alcohol or drugs will cause them to do things they would not normally do if they did not have that compulsion. Alcoholics and drug addicts get to the point that nothing else in the world really matters except getting the substance.

The thoughts and behaviors of alcoholics and drug addicts revolve around getting the substance, using the substance and trying to stop using the substance. It’s as though their entire beings are consumed with getting the substance into their bodies one way or another. This compulsion creates what family, friends and coworkers see as confusing behavior and the overall deterioration of the alcoholics and drug addicts lives.

Understanding a Complex Condition

Understanding alcoholics and drug addicts is easier when you know that addiction is a disease and a compulsion. It is a compulsion that causes people to keep using alcohol or drugs despite all of the bad consequences. Alcoholics and drug addicts must receive treatment for the disease of addiction if they are to find freedom from it.