When treating addiction, denial can show up in many forms. A common attitude among clients is to assume that their addiction is less severe than others because of the substance being used. A frequent example is an alcoholic who claims that their dependence is not as serious as someone who is addicted to a class A drug. Alternatively, somebody who has an addiction to a class A drug may find the idea of recovery more daunting because of the perception that their condition is more serious than that of those around them.
These assumptions are dangerous and only achieve to hinder recovery. Addiction is a serious disease and understanding it fully will help a lot with recovery.
The main difference between alcoholism and drug addiction is that alcohol is legal and many controlled drugs are not. We also live in a culture where drinking alcohol is sociably acceptable, whereas taking drugs is not. This makes identifying alcohol dependence more difficult as it could be hiding in plain site. Society also tells us that drinking alcohol is less serious than taking controlled drugs, so it is only natural to assume that alcohol addiction is less serious than that of drugs.
Social acceptance is also a factor behind the rise in prescription drug addiction. There is a lot less exposure around this type of addiction and many people are unaware of the risks simply because it is prescribed by a trusted doctor. However, like many other drugs, the consequences of abuse can be serious.
What is addiction?
Addictive substances create a high, which is brought on by the release of dopamine in the brain. When addiction occurs, the brain adapts to the substance and it no longer has the same effect, but there is a biological effect of withdrawal.
Much of the reasons why some people develop an addiction when others do not are unknown. However, the main danger lies in the reasons behind the use of a substance. Those who use drug or alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress or depression find themselves using more and more and their brains become less responsive to the positive effects. This is true for both alcohol and other drugs.
Addiction is not restricted to one substance
Many people enter alcohol or drug rehab thinking that once they are clean of one substance, they can begin using another. Therefore, some people will stop taking illegal drugs and drink alcohol instead. However, the psychological reasons behind the addiction are often still there and using alcohol or other drugs can either lead to a relapse or addiction to the new substance. Total abstinence is recommended for recovery.
Addiction is a serious illness and is defined not by the substance being taken, but by the individual. Whilst there are differences between treating drug and alcohol and drug addiction, they are treated equally as serious.