Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chained to Addiction

Drug abuse and addiction affects so many people in so many ways. It is a growing public health concern that cannot and must not be ignored. Unfortunately, many stereotypes and myths about drug abusers contribute to the problem. So what is drug addiction?

Is it a behavioral problem? A disease? Moral shortcoming? Is is a social problem?

Truthfully, drug abuse and addiction is all of the above. Prevailing scientific evidents has identified addiction as a chronic, relapsing and treatable disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states the following about addiction and treatment:

Addiction does begin with drug abuse when an individual makes a conscious choice to use drugs, but addiction is not just "a lot of drug use." Recent scientific research provides overwhelming evidence that not only do drugs interfere with normal brain functioning creating powerful feelings of pleasure, but they also have long-term effects on brain metabolism and activity. At some point, changes occur in the brain that can turn drug abuse into addiction, a chronic, relapsing illness. Those addicted to drugs suffer from a compulsive drug craving and usage and cannot quit by themselves. Treatment is necessary to end this compulsive behavior.

People can and do become addicted to a drug in a short period of time. Some even become addicted after their first experience with a drug. Consider this--3 out of 4 people who try cocaine will become addicted to it. What's more, only 1 in 4 of those addicted will be able to quit without help.

As a former cocaine addict, I know first hand how difficult it is to recognize that I needed help, let alone accept it from people who saw how I was ruining my life. The path that took me to the depths of self-loathing and self-abuse was easy--all I had to do was give in to my craving. Leaving the addiction behind was one of the most difficult things I ever dared, and I know I couldn't have done it by myself. I couldn't have done it for myself either. God gave me a reason to get clean, a reason for living for something and someone other than my cocaine addiction.

My daughter is just one of many miracles and blessings that helps me to live each day drug free. Although my body has sustained a great deal of damage after years of cocaine abuse, and bears the scars of the intense, invasive, painful medical procedures it took to get me back on track, I am living proof that addiction can be overcome.


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