Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something, to the point where it could be harmful to you. Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, but it's possible to be addicted to anything, such as:

  • Work: workaholics are obsessed with their work to the extent that they suffer physical exhaustion. If your relationship, family and social life are suffering and you never take holidays, you may be a work addict.
  • Computers: as computer use has increased, so too has computer addiction. People may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or playing games while neglecting other aspects of their lives.
  • Solvents: 'volatile substance abuse’ is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, paint or lighter fuel, to give you a feeling of intoxication. Solvent abuse can be fatal.
  • Shopping: shopping becomes an addiction when you buy things you don’t need or want in order to achieve a buzz. This is quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair.

Whatever a person is addicted to, they can't control how they use it, and they may become dependent on it to get through daily life.

For people struggling with drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal but recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless the situation seems. Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by addressing the root cause of the addiction. The road to recovery often involves bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks but by examining the problem and thinking about change, it is possible.

According to information collected by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 22.5 million Americans over the age of 12 used illicit drugs in the last month. This equates to roughly 8.7 percent of people over the age of 12. Of those who admitted to have used illicit drugs in the last month, approximately

  • 18.1 million used marijuana,
  • 6.1 million used psychotherapeutics,
  • 1.4 million used cocaine,
  • 1 million used hallucinogens,
  • 0.6 million used inhalants and
  • 0.3 million used heroin.

Drug addiction is a complex disorder that can involve virtually every aspect of an individual's functioning—in the family, at work and school, and in the community.

Because of addiction's complexity and pervasive consequences, drug addiction treatment typically must involve many components. Some of those components focus directly on the individual's drug use; others, like employment training, focus on restoring the addicted individual to productive membership in the family and society (See diagram "Components of Comprehensive Drug Abuse Treatment"), enabling him or her to experience the rewards associated with abstinence.

Treatment for drug abuse and addiction is delivered in many different settings using a variety of behavioral and pharmacological approaches. In the United States, more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities provide counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, case management, and other types of services to persons with substance use disorders.

Along with specialized drug treatment facilities, drug abuse and addiction are treated in physicians' offices and mental health clinics by a variety of providers, including counselors, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers. Treatment is delivered in outpatient, inpatient, and residential settings. Although specific treatment approaches often are associated with particular treatment settings, a variety of therapeutic interventions or services can be included in any given setting.

Because drug abuse and addiction are major public health problems, a large portion of drug treatment is funded by local, State, and Federal governments. Private and employer-subsidized health plans also may provide coverage for treatment of addiction and its medical consequences. Unfortunately, managed care has resulted in shorter average stays, while a historical lack of or insufficient coverage for substance abuse treatment has curtailed the number of operational programs. The recent passage of parity for insurance coverage of mental health and substance abuse problems will hopefully improve this state of affairs. Health Care Reform (i.e., the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) also stands to increase the demand for drug abuse treatment services and presents an opportunity to study how innovations in service delivery, organization, and financing can improve access to and use of them.

Help with Drug Addiction Recovery can come from many different places in the form of loving family and friends, drug treatment programs, and drug rehab facilities. Recovery is a long process that requires a commitment from a lot of people, but when you get help with your drug addiction, recovery is a very real possibility.

Many people struggling with drug addiction think that recovery is nearly impossible for them. They’ve heard the horror stories of painful withdrawal symptoms, they can’t imagine life without drugs, and they can’t fathom actually being able to get through a recovery effort. But people do recover from drug addiction – every day in fact. But they don’t usually do it alone. They have lots of help.

Drug addiction recovery entails more than just getting over the physical withdrawal from drugs, it also involves a healing of the mind and the mindset that started you towards drug addiction in the first place. Recovery is a spiritual process that needs to take place in the mind, heart, and soul. Recovery comes about after a long period of time. The initial phase is abstinence or not using the drug. Abstinence eventually moves into recovery as the addict begins to change and grow in positive ways. Abstinence requires a decision, recovery requires effort.

Once you have gone through the abstinence phase with withdrawal from the drug, you can then move on to mental recovery. This type of recovery has to do with issues like brain function and brain chemistry. It involves changing your attitudes, belief systems, and rational thoughts so that you don’t start using drugs again.

Emotional recovery from drugs is a very complex part of the healing process as well. This part of recovery has more to do with your feelings than anything else. Emotional recovery involves learning to deal with feelings openly, honestly, and responsibly. It includes learning to express and resolve feelings in appropriate and effective ways. For most people in recovery, emotional recovery can take years.

You can choose to undertake your drug addiction recovery at a rehab facility or through a 12-step program, but you truly do need to seek out the help of others if you want to have a full recovery. Very few people are able to recover from drug addiction on their own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you can have a successful recovery from drug addiction once you do!

You can choose to undertake your drug addiction recovery at a rehab facility or through a 12-step program, but you truly do need to seek out the help of others if you want to have a full recovery. Very few people are able to recover from drug addiction on their own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you can have a successful recovery from drug addiction once you do!

12 step groups are an important resource of recovery for two reasons. First, they're effective. Millions of people have recovered through them. Second, they're free and universally available. Almost every country, every city, every cruise ship has a 12 step group. There are many other kinds of recovery supports, including doctors, therapists, addiction counselors, and treatment programs. But how they work is obvious.

These are the original twelve steps:

  • We admitted we were powerless over drugs—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) describes itself as a "nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem.

Regular meetings, hosted by NA groups, are the basic unit of the NA Fellowship. Meetings are held in a variety of places such as church meeting rooms, libraries, hospitals, community centers, parks, or any other place that can accommodate a meeting.

Members who attend the same meeting on a regular basis to establish a recovery network and reliable routine understand this to be their "Home Group". Group members are able to participate in the group's business, and play an important role in deciding how the group's meetings should be conducted.

Mental Health Recovery

If you have a chronic disease like heart attack or diabetes, you will have to live life with it. You will learn to adjust after each attack and would know the signs that there is an acute attack budding. The same is true with recovery from a mental illness. You cannot expect that during treatment, you will be a renewed man. Symptoms would still be apparent and you would experience things that are sometimes hopeless and debilitating but still you have to adjust through them. And with each adjustment, you would feel that you are starting to move forward, leaving your mental illness behind.

Mental health recovery is all about improvement from a bad case to something better. It is a continuous process and definitely not a linear one. You would move from square one to square two but you should always be ready to move one step back. You would learn newer ways to control the symptoms of your mental illness and would have insights on how to cope with them. There would be a lot of disappointments and errors the results from these errors are oftentimes rewarding.

Mental health recovery is a lifelong process as much as mental illness took years to develop sometimes even decades. A person could struggle through years of being controlled solely by a mental disorder and will have to face a lifelong effort to get out of it. You may achieve a life beyond the chains of your previous mental illness symptoms but you would still have to bout with intermittent attacks of symptoms.

One crucial factor to all kinds of illnesses is early intervention. Someone who presents symptoms of schizophrenia during earlier stages have a better chance of easier recovery with early intervention than someone who has aggravated case. Likewise, any signs of relapse that are recognized and treated early could define the barrier between going through the same disorder again or completely shutting all doors towards total recovery.

However, recovery from a mental disorder is just one of the many parts of the process. A person suffering from mental illness should also work to restore his mental health or sense of well-being.

Many individuals who have histories of mental illness often resort to a life that is withdrawn from the public due to social stigma and discrimination associated with the mental disorder. This leads to impaired sense of self-worth thus invaliding the whole idea of recovery.

For most people, the hardest stage of the recovery process is not the beginning but the end. In this stage, a person has to reclaim everything that he has lost during the entire period he had the mental illness plus every lost opportunity that he would have taken prior to the onset of symptoms.

Focus on the Individual

The focus of recovery should be on the person or the individual and not the process of treatment. There is a constant shift in the manners by which people suffering from psychological disorders are being treated. During the past centuries, due partly to the drive to establish more reliable and effective treatment methods, most mental health professionals fail to focus on the process occurring in a patient, the changes he is undergoing throughout the treatment and the improvements that are associated with the treatment. Instead, the common point for most practitioners is the process of treatment itself- whether or not one treatment is more effective than the other or whether or not a specific therapy could actually work for all patients.

It is a good thing that mental illnesses are viewed now from the sufferer's perspectives rather than the technicalities of the treatment or therapy. Individuals have various presentations of a mental disorder. Thus needing individualized forms of recovery treatments that are curtailed to the person's preferences, unique characteristics such as resiliency, strengths and weaknesses, cultural background and experiences.

Focus on the Community

It should be grounded on peer support – External support is invaluable in the process of recovery. Knowing that there are other people who, like the patient, also struggle to achieve the state of well being they want to achieve. It helps for them to know that there are people who cares for them, who wants to see them gain back their life and who shares the same sufferings as they do.

There should exist a mental health support group that would guide and enlighten the patients with the reality of the psychological disorder. This also provides the mutual support that is needed in gaining skills and knowledge on the disorder which is a contributory factor towards improvement.

Focus on Issues Surrounding Mental Wellness

It should be well-directed – A direction set by both the mental health providers and the patient should be prepared during the initial stage of recovery. The patient determines the pace of healing while the mental health professional facilitate the direction.

It should be non-linear - This perspective adheres to the belief that a recovery process is both an end and a process. It is not the usual step-by-step process that has varying levels. In mental health recovery, it is possible that a person who has already overcome the symptoms of a mental disorder could still be troubled by the relapse of the same symptoms. It is, in fact, a trial-and-error process with the promise of development and usual setbacks.

It should be holistic – The concept of holism should be fully integrated into the process of recovery. Recovery from a mental disorder does not only cover specific and separate issues like biological or psychosocial aspects of the disorder. Instead, it affects a person in an extensive manner. Thus recovery should also focus on the micro as well as macro issues surrounding the disorder.

Lastly, the process of recovery should be empowered by hope matched by the motivation and willingness to break free from the mental illness. This could only be achieved when all individual factors – the perspective of the individual and the direction he is taking, the support of external groups such as the family and peers and the right frame of mind.

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