Addiction doesn’t simply take over our daily lives–it takes over our relationships, our careers, and ultimately, even our will. From alcoholism and drug addiction to psychological addictions like gambling, eating disorders, and sexual addictions, we lose the ability to choose the lives we want for ourselves. Addiction is a multi-faceted problem, requiring rehabilitation with a holistic approach to wholly resolve. Fortunately, with compassionate and comprehensive treatment, we can find freedom from addiction and regain control over our lives.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction occurs when an individual engages in repeated and compulsive behavior, regardless of the negative consequences it causes to themselves and others. Addiction can be physical in nature–such as drug or alcohol addictions–or psychologically and behaviorally driven, such as eating disorders, sexual or gambling addictions. Overcoming addiction is not a matter of “willpower”–but rather a matter of treating the underlying causes of addiction to enable the individual to overcome cravings and finally recover the freedom to make healthier lifestyle choices on their own behalves.

How Addiction Develops

Many people erroneously assume that addiction develops due to a single cause (such as genetic predisposition). While preexisting chemical imbalances may factor into the development of addiction, there are often other contributing factors as well. Addiction can be triggered by tragedy, such as a sudden death, bankruptcy, job loss or divorce. In some cases, the drive to escape through drug addiction or alcoholism stems from unresolved childhood trauma or chronic low self esteem. By treating each case of addiction as unique, and by approaching addiction with a holistic perspective, underlying causes of addiction can be successfully treated and resolved.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction occurs when dependent individuals find they cannot control or cease alcohol intake, despite the negative consequences to their health, families, careers and relationships. Alcohol addiction can lead to severe health problems such as liver failure, heart attack and even cancer, as well as fatalities from drunk driving and alcohol poisoning. Withdrawal symptoms can be deadly, as well, marked by strong cravings, hallucinations, convulsions and respiratory depression. Alcohol addiction also can create psychological effects, including memory loss, dementia, mood swings, depression and anxiety.

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can range from prescription drug dependency to chronic use of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, steroids, hallucinogens and “club drugs” used in the underground party scene. Drug addiction often begins with experimentation or isolated “trips,” and escalates quickly into addiction as body and brain chemistry become affected. Drug addiction can cause severe damage to the body’s systems, organ failure, and severe psychological and cognitive difficulties–especially when multiple drug addictions take place at concurrently. Drug tolerance also can develop rapidly, necessitating higher levels of drug intake to achieve the same high–though tolerance to side effects often does not occur, making high dosages dangerous. Psychological effects of drug addiction can include personality changes, mood disorders, psychosis, eating disorders, severe depression and suicide. Domestic abuse, sexual assault, theft, and other crimes have also been correlated with chronic drug addiction.

Behavioral Addictions

Some addictions do not involve the use of toxic substances such as drugs or alcohol. Behavioral addictions can include sexual addictions, gambling addictions, eating disorders and compulsive self injury. Behavioral addictions take place when individuals encounter a loss of control over their choices, compulsively engaging in destructive patterns of behavior. Though behavioral addictions will generally not include a detoxification phase, effective treatment can include similar rehabilitation methods to those of alcohol or drug addiction, including individualized therapy, hypnotherapy, lifestyle adjustment, spiritual guidance and transitional planning. In some cases, behavioral addictions occur alongside other treatable conditions–such as drug or alcohol dependency–or as a result of psychological conditions.

Addiction Treatment

There are many forms of addiction treatment, including 12-step programs, outpatient rehab facilities and extended-stay inpatient recovery centers. Customized inpatient addiction treatment centers tend to tailor rehabilitation efforts to the individual’s health concerns, personal history, belief system and particular addiction history. Outpatient rehab facilities tend to focus on group therapy and substance abuse education, whereas inpatient rehabilitation programs tend to offer in-depth recovery during an extended stay in a sober, stress-free environment with onsite detox facilities. Twelve-step programs may be offered by outpatient or inpatient rehab centers or by voluntary local meetings, based on an outlook of addiction as treatable but incurable. Other private addiction rehabilitation centers approach addiction as a symptom of underlying issues, that once resolved, can lead to a full cure.

Addiction Relapse

Addiction relapse occurs when an individual returns to addictive behavior after a period of abstinence–often breeding feelings of hopelessness in the addicted individual. Usually, relapse indicates that there is still more healing needed in order to live a sober and addiction-free lifestyle. Relapse is often an indicator of incomplete treatment, rather than a reflection of the addicted individual’s ability to heal.