How do I know if I am addicted? What are the different kinds of substance use disorders?
Addiction is defined as a condition of being mentally or physically dependent on any mood or mind-altering substance. This includes legal or illicit substances such as alcohol, prescription medications, or heroin.
Alcoholism is considered an addiction. Alcoholism is a progressive illness classified as a disease since 1956 by the American Medical Association. Most people have a lot of misconceptions and unanswered questions about addiction/alcoholism.
There are three main categories or classifications that fall under all substance use disorders (SUD). Since addiction is a progressive illness, these three categories can overlap as the illness gets worse over time. A person that finds themselves in ANY of these three categories may need medical detox or residential treatment.
Forms of Substance Use Disorders:
Chemical dependency is defined as someone who is addicted to a mood or mind-altering substance. This includes legal or illicit substances such as alcohol, prescription medications, cocaine, or heroin. Chemical dependency occurs when a person’s body physically becomes dependent on a substance. Someone who is chemically dependent on a substance will experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping the substance. Depending on the type of substance and the level of use, withdrawals can range from mild, moderate, to severe; and in some extreme cases, even death can occur. A person could be taking a prescription medication exactly as prescribed and still become chemically dependent and need a safe detox from that medication. A medically supervised detox is the safest way to recover from chemical dependency. Once detoxed, this person will not return to using the mood or mind-altering substance.
Acute addiction is defined as someone who has a short-term or situational drinking/using problem with any mood or mind-altering substances. This includes legal or illicit substances such as alcohol, prescription medications, cocaine, or heroin. An acute addict/alcoholic may have some difficulty controlling the amount they use/drink. This person may or may not get drunk/high when they use. They may or may not be chemically dependent. They may or may not have health problems from drinking/using. They may or may not have any external consequences from their drinking/using.
A person with an acute addiction does have a drinking/using “problem.” However, given a sufficient reason to stop, this person CAN choose to stop or moderate, though they may need help and support in doing so. A medically supervised detox (if chemically dependent) and/or residential treatment is the safest way to begin recovery from acute addiction/alcoholism. After treatment, this person will not return to using the mood or mind-altering substance. This person can recover using clinical, psychological, and physical improvement, along with mental wellness modalities, such as therapy, IOP, support groups, counseling, physical exercise, and the implementation of new coping skills.
Chronic Addiction is defined as someone who has a long-term, recurrent, or habitual drinking/using problem with any mood or mind-altering substance. This includes legal or illicit substances such as alcohol, prescription medications, cocaine, or heroin. A chronic addict/alcoholic may or may not get drunk/high when they use. They may or may not be chemically dependent. They may or may not have health problems from drinking/using. They may or may not have any external consequences from their drinking/using.
However, chronic addiction/alcoholism is identified by a person’s lack of ability to control the amount they use/drink. This is characterized by the abnormal reaction they have to alcohol/drugs called the phenomenon of CRAVING. Once the first drink/drug is consumed, this person cannot control the amount they ingest each time. This “lack of control” progressively gets worse as the illness progresses.
Chronic addiction is also identified by a person’s lack of ability to leave a substance alone permanently. They can stop, but they can’t stay stopped. They return to a substance eventually or switch to a new substance. There is a lack of a mental defense against the first drink/drug at certain times. As this symptom progressively gets worse over time, a person will lose the ability to choose whether they will drink/use or not. Once chronic, they have lost the power of CHOICE. Relapse is guaranteed if this chronic condition goes untreated. This is where the term “chronic relapser” comes from. Consequences, motivation, willpower, or a strong desire to stop will not be sufficient because a chronically addicted person cannot choose to stop or moderate successfully on their own. A medically supervised detox (if chemically dependent) and/or residential treatment, followed by a spiritual program of recovery is the most effective way to recover from chronic addiction/alcoholism. Once recovered, this person can live a full life free from mood or mind-altering substance abuse. This person must develop and maintain a spiritual basis of recovery to achieve permanent sobriety.
If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing any of these symptoms listed above, you may have a substance use disorder (SUD), and detox/treatment may be necessary in order to recover. You are not alone, and we can help.
The three manifestations of SUD are:
- Chemical Dependency
- Acute Addiction
- Chronic Addiction
All three are forms of addiction. Addiction is a progressive and potentially fatal disease if untreated. Every individual’s “rate of progression” is different. It is important not to compare oneself to others. Each person’s situation is unique, and addiction can look different for everyone. Addiction is not a moral issue. It’s a scientifically and medically proven illness. Recovery IS Possible! Every person has the right to happiness and the fullness of life restored. Matthew’s Hope Detox and Recovery Program blends the medical, clinical, and spiritual elements of recovery to give everyone the BEST chance at lasting recovery!
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or has questions about substance abuse, reach out to Matthew’s Hope Detox and Recovery today. We can help.