What is Drug Addiction & alcoholism?
Drug and alcohol addiction is a physical/genetic difference which affects only 15% of the population. What this means is 85% of the population do not actually get addicted. For example, people among the 85% may use and even become drug dependent but will never experience true addiction.
The person with addiction is physically and mentally ill. The condition is so extreme alcohol or drugs are demanded by the body and mind to a degree that is inconceivable by normal people. Hard drinkers or drug dependant users do not even comprehend the difference between true addiction and dependence. The sufferer of real addiction experiences a craving and mental obsession never found in the non-addicted person no matter how much the non-addicted person drinks or uses drugs. Persons with the disease of addiction in more advanced stages are unable to control how much he or she uses or drinks once he or she has taken the substance into the bloodstream. It is an obsession so powerful that alcohol and/or drugs will take priority over one's physical health, personal life and work.
Additionally, the symptoms of the disorder begin to be more evident as life’s material duties and challenges become increasingly more demanding. The attempt to manage becomes more difficult. The person with the disease is usually delusional. He or she attempts to manage and manipulate every element of life. He or she is continually acting from an egocentric/self-centered view. For example, one who suffers from this disease often considers rules optional. Additionally, from this ego-based view of life causes added frustrations, resentments and anger which lead to disproportionate levels of confusion and anxiety.
Therefore, the disease manifests as increased suffering. The sufferer attempts various methods to settle the disease and ultimately discovers alcohol and/or drugs. The chemical experience gives the sufferer a sense of ease and comfort. In this stage the chemical easing of anxiety is an experience that appears to the sufferer as the only solution to his or her feelings of disharmony. He or she feels safe during the chemical alteration as if he or she has become adjusted. This is why he or she repeats this process over and over again.
However, an individual with a genetic predisposition to addiction will often function fairly well for many years after he or she begins to use a substance. Yet, in most cases the addictive nature becomes noticeable quickly even in teenage or young adulthood.
According to Dr. Carl Jung the “craving for alcohol was the equivalent of a spiritual thirst of the alcoholic’s being for wholeness, also expressed as the union with God”. This idea is later supported in subsequent publications released by the following doctors of medicine and psychiatry (Levin, 1991); (Chopra, 1997); ( Grof, 1990); (Peck, 1993); and (Fisher, 2010).
Below we have provided a list of genetic markers scientists have attributed to addictive traits. Not that the average reader will know these genetic markers; however, it illustrates how the genetic makeup of alcoholics and addicts differs from those of so called "normal people".
The following paragraph reports some of the research completed thus far on Methamphetamine users. Similar studies exist for many other mood altering drugs such as alcohol. For methamphetamine alone there are currently 38 studies examining 39 genes, of which 18 were found to have a significant genotypic, allelic, and/or haplotypic association with METH use disorders. Three genes (COMT, DRD4, and GABRA1) were associated with METH abuse, nine (ARRB2, BDNF, CYP2D6, GLYT1, GSTM1, GSTP1, PDYN, PICK1, and SLC22A3) with METH dependence, two (AKT1 and GABRG2) with METH abuse/dependence, and four (DTNBP1, OPRM1, SNCA, and SOD2) with METH psychosis.
Alcohol is mediated through the corticomesolimbic dopaminergic reward pathway. The following markers have been associated with alcohol dependence including the genes encoding cholinergic receptor, muscarinic 2 (CHRM2) ; cholinergic receptor, nicotinic, alpha 5 (CHRNA5); catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) ; GABA A receptor, alpha 2 (GABRA2); glutamate receptor, metabotropic 8 (GRM8) ; solute carrier family 6 (neurotransmitter transporter, serotonin), member 4 (5-HTT); nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells 1 (NFKB1) ; monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) ; neuropeptide Y receptor Y2 (NPY2R) ; opioid receptor, kappa 1 (OPRK1) ; opioid receptor, mu 1 (OPRM1) ; prodynorphin (PDYN) ; and tachykinin receptor 3 (TACR3) .
There are far too many mental disorders caused by drug use to cover here. However, common problems include depression, mania, paranoia, psychosis, and anxiety.
There are also categories and symptoms addicts and alcoholics exhibit such as those described by Dr. Silkworth in the publication Alcoholics Anonymous, such as the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable. We are all familiar with this type. They are always "going on the wagon for keeps." They are over-remorseful and make many resolutions, but never a decision. There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit that he cannot take a drink. He plans various ways of drinking. He changes his brand or his environment. There is the type who always believes that after being entirely free from alcohol for a period of time he can take a drink without danger. There is the manic-depressive type who is, perhaps, the least understood by his friends and about whom a whole chapter could be written. Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect alcohol has upon them. They are often able, intelligent, friendly people. All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.
(Source: Alcoholics Anonymous, "The Doctor's Opinion", p. xxx)