Recovery Resources Information


What is addiction?

Addiction – to drugs, alcohol or anything else – is a disease. It is a disease which is progressive in nature. The British Medical Association, The American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organisation amongst many other bodies have officially recognised that addiction is a disease for many years. Addiction has many symptoms that are typical of other diseases . A "progressive disease " or chronic as it is often referred this to , means that, once the addiction has taken hold, left unchecked it will get worse over time rather than better. It is not someone's “fault” that they have an addiction, any more than it is someone's “fault” if they have cancer. However just as with cancer once a person is diagnosed it becomes the responsibility of that person to get help to arrest the disease utilising the most successful methods available to them.

How can addiction be treated?

Someone who has an addiction must first recognize that this is the case and then decide that they want help to overcome it. The problem is that one of the hallmarks of addiction is denial: the person concerned may not be able to admit that they have a problem. Denial can also affect those close to the addict or alcoholic – friends, family and colleagues may for some time be able to “excuse” the behaviours of the person, rationalise them away or even help cover up the addiction. But, there usually comes a time when the destructive effects of addiction are too keenly felt by those close to the addict to be denied any longer.

How can family, friends and colleagues help?

Once the addiction is obvious to those close to the person in question, family members, friends and colleagues have basically two choices: do nothing, or do something. People with cancer or other physical diseases are not expected to wait until their condition is so bad that they are forced to seek help. As a society, we do what we can to offer treatment to people who are ill – so why should we treat drug addicts and alcoholics any differently? Rather than stand by and watch a loved one or respected colleague slide inexorably towards the famous “rock bottom”, they can choose to intervene with professional help to halt the progression of the addiction.