Most people with addiction problems feel that they have a disease. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous all see addiction as a disease. Professionals mostly feel that the situation is more complex than this. It must be recognized that viewing addiction as a disease helps many people to overcome their problem. The evidence for biological and genetic factors being important in addiction bolsters the illness argument, but there is also evidence for social and psychological factors being important. Low levels of serotonin – a brain chemical – appear to be an important cause of addiction. ‘Drugs of solace’ may increase serotonin levels and depressed people take them for this reason. Alcohol raises serotonin levels in the short-term, but the levels fall in chronic alcoholics. Ecstasy produces the same effect. Cigarettes may increase serotonin levels, adding to their addictive properties. Gambling problems also seem to be associated with low levels of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin may be the result of inheritance, but low status in society also seems to reduce serotonin levels. Drug and alcohol abuse is more common in people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Studies in animals demonstrate that they will self-administer substances – such as alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, nicotine, barbiturates and some benzodiazepines. Therefore, these drugs are described as rewarding or reinforcing. The fact that drugs and alcohol are rewarding does not explain why some people become addicted but not others, but it does lend weight to the argument that addiction is an illness or disease. Do You Have an Alcohol Dependence Problem?
Ask yourself the following four questions (the “CAGE” questionnaire).
+ Have you ever felt that you should cut down on your alcohol consumption?
+ Have you ever felt Annoyed when others criticized your alcohol consumption?
+ Have you ever felt Guilty about your alcohol consumption or the consequences of alcohol consumption?
+ Have you ever had an Eye opener in the morning?
If you answer ‘yes’ to two or more of these questions, it’s possible that you are drinking too much and should seek help. The obvious answer to addiction is to stop taking the consumed substance, but of course this is far from easy. The important thing to remember is that help is available. Probably the most important source of help (it reaches the greatest number of people) is Alcoholics Anonymous. Someone who has been consuming alcohol heavily may require admission to the medical ward of a local hospital in order to ensure safe withdrawal. Coming off alcohol quickly can result in delirium tremens, which can be a fatal condition and must be treated carefully. By Dr. Ciaran Mulholland http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/menshealth/facts/addiction.htm
When you live in an alcoholic family
or an abusive family, you tiptoe,
you don’t want to step on any mines.