When it is said, someone is addicted or dependent; it is meant the sufferer cannot operate their day-to-day life without the constant support of alcohol or drugs.
A tremendous amount of research has proven that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Despite this knowledge, many people, including some health care professionals, still describe addiction as some sort of moral weakness. We know that an addiction disorder is not caused by a lack of willpower or the result of some certain personality type.
The Mayo Clinic defines Alcoholism as such: Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. If you have alcoholism, you can’t consistently predict how much you’ll drink, how long you’ll drink, or what consequences will occur from your drinking.
It’s possible to have a problem with alcohol, even when it has not progressed to the point of alcoholism. Problem drinking means you drink too much at times, causing repeated problems in your life, although you’re not completely dependent on alcohol.
Binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks in a row, or a female downs at least four drinks in a row — can lead to the same health risks and social problems associated with alcoholism. The more you drink, the greater the risks. Binge drinking, which often occurs with teenagers and young adults, may lead to faster development of alcoholism.
Mayo Clinic on Drug Addiction:
Drug addiction is a dependence on an illegal drugs; nicotine and medication. When you’re addicted, you may not be able to control your drug use and you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Drug addiction can cause an intense craving for the drug. You may want to quit, but most people find they can’t do it on their own.
For many people, what starts as casual use leads to drug addiction. Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law.
You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free.
The aforementioned is, in a very small nutshell, how an individual becomes dependent and then addicted. The person intakes the alcohol or drug, gains a comforting and satisfying reaction, and repeats the process as necessary. However, the sufferer soon discovers the alcohol or drug takes over their system and they need to keep taking the product(s) to feel at least half way ‘well’. The sufferer also learns they need to take larger and more frequent quantities in order to feel OK. This is how dependency and addiction are created. Constant use of the product(s) can create a tolerance for the drug/alcohol and more is required, so that consistently larger quantities are used.
The substance(s) used to provide these feelings of well-being, e.g. alcohol and drug(s) is harmful to the body. As is known, the occasional glass of beer, wine or spirit does not do any harm. However, if large quantities of alcohol are consumed the body suffers from what is termed a ‘hangover’.
To continue the overindulgence will, in effect, poison the body and organs, e.g. eyes, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder and reproductive organs will become affected and may even stop working correctly altogether. Similarly, with drugs and solvents, the same reaction as described above can take place. The most susceptible organ being the brain, whose cells, under the constant onslaught of alcohol or drug simply die in various parts of the structure and the addict, can be left a virtual vegetable.