If you think you or someone you love may be experiencing an addiction or are seeking treatment in Alabama for an alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, porn or sexual disorder, we can help. The following pages provides some general information about theses disorders to help you get started, but please feel free to contact us for further information at the phone number above if you have questions or would like to book an appointment.
A Definition of Addiction
A long-term pattern of repeated use of a substance in such a manner as to cause or exacerbate harmful consequences in any domain of one’s life – physical, emotional, relational, legal, spiritual, financial — and, despite the accumulating negative consequences of using the substance, the person continues to use it.
As you can see, this definition starts to get at the heart of addiction — repeated use of a substance despite evident and repeated negative consequences.
First, there is an element of repetition. In other words, there has to be a pattern of use that leads to harm. If you go overboard on how much you drink once or twice a year and do something while drinking that you regret later, that, by itself, does not mean you are addicted. But if you’ve been drinking heavily, or binging, every month, or every two weeks, or weekly, or at some other regular interval for at least the past twelve months, and on many of those occasions you feel guilty about it afterward, or there is damage to your relationship from it, or you end up doing something you regret, then that might be a red flag.
Second, there is an element of harm involved. You and your spouse might fight more destructively when you’re drinking, for example. You might experience blackouts. You might miss important obligations because you were drinking or hungover. You might become more aggressive with others. Other harmful consequences include giving up important recreational activities with your family, breaking the trust of one’s spouse or partner, not taking care of one’s body, feeling guilty and ashamed about one’s drinking or using, experiencing legal problems, underperforming at work, or feeling awful, depressed, irritable or anxious the next day.
Third, despite the consequences, you continue to drink or use. Think about it this way. If a person drank socially, and on occasion they consumed too much alcohol and encountered some trouble because of it, they would say, “I’m not doing that again,” and they would change something about their behavior so as to prevent further negative consequences of their drinking. And they would most likely be successful.
But someone who is addicted cannot do this, or cannot do this consistently, even when they try.
Sooner or later, despite their efforts to control or prevent the harm, they end up consuming too much of the substance again. This happens again and again. Not necessarily every day, and not necessarily every time, but regularly and repeatedly, it happens enough that the harm continues to pile up over time.