Addiction: A Complex Disease

by | Feb 8, 2018 | Addiction Treatment | 1 comment

If your grown child struggles with addiction, you should know that it is a disease, and there is treatment that can help.

Addiction: A Complex Disease

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a complex disease that is not always well understood. While someone may think that a young adult suffering from addiction has made poor choices or has a lack of willpower, the truth is that they could have several factors that affect their drug use.

Addiction to drugs does affect the way the brain works in the body, and that means that its chemistry can be altered. While a young adult is still maturing, the damage to the brain can be extensive if drugs are introduced.

Quitting can also be incredibly difficult, and it’s not for a lack of trying. In fact, many people struggle with quitting due to the way the brain has changed; the body physically needs and craves the drug. Because of this, medications and treatment may need to be used to help the patient quit taking drugs.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Above all else, addiction is “a chronic, often relapsing, brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Patients may suffer severe side effects or overdoses and still seek out the drug, despite the fact that it’s a risk that could leave them seriously injured.

Many people start drugs thinking they can stop whenever they’d like. Unfortunately, while this may be true at the start, the brain does change with each use. Over time, the addiction grows, making it harder to stop taking the drug and even making the person take the drug more often to satiate cravings.

Are Addictions All “In the Head?”

Addictions can also be paired with dependencies. What that means is that the body may physically be dependent on the drug in order to function correctly. Addictions essentially describe the cravings and psychological need for the drug, while the dependency makes it physically difficult or dangerous to stop taking the drug.

In that way, the addiction is both physical and mental, making it harder to stop.

What Can Be Done About An Addiction?

Since addiction is a disease, it can be treated much in the same way any other disease would be. There are a few stages, including detoxification, rehabilitation, and aftercare.

To start with, clients may enter detoxification, which is the time when medical care is given while they allow the drug to exit the body. This can be done with the help of medications or through tapering; depending on the drug, the patient may have to be monitored as they stop taking it all at once.

In the next stage, patients go through rehabilitation, where they learn ways to manage the mental aspect of the addiction.

Finally, aftercare, like group therapy, halfway houses, and other long-term treatments are discussed.

While addiction can be a frightening disease for your family, knowing more about it can help. Contact us at The Delray Recovery Center to find out more about addiction and how you can get the help you need.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction,
    National Institute on Drug Abuse, November 2012,