Approximately 22.7 million U.S. citizens needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem in 2013. But only 2.5 million acquired treatment at a specialized treatment facility.
This discrepancy is staggering. But it’s a reality for many Americans today.
Let’s take a look at five surprising addiction facts you may not know.
5 Surprising Addiction Facts
Addiction hides many secrets. And there are many pieces to the puzzle you need to be aware of to make it through to the other side.
1. It’s Not About Willpower
One of the most surprising addiction facts for many is that the addiction isn’t about a lack of willpower.
For family members and friends, it’s easy to ask yourself, “Why is she still doing this to us after all these consequences?” Or “If he cared about me, he’d quit.”
It can be hard to understand that addiction is a brain disease. It’s not about willpower. It’s about receiving treatment for an illness just like you would for diabetes or heart palpitations.
2. There is a Difference Between a Drug Abuser and an Addict
The second fact on substance abuse is that non-addicts and addicts aren’t made alike. This is due to the genetic makeup of the brain.
A drug abuser is someone who misuses drugs for the high and an escape from their daily life challenges. This person has a relatively healthy brain and receives euphoric experiences from their drug of abuse.
An addict is a person who has a brain disease that genetically prevents them from “just stopping.” They compulsively use despite overwhelmingly shocking consequences.
And the enjoyment is rarely there. It’s not about experiencing the high. It becomes entirely about escaping the cycle of pain.
3. There is a Genetic Predisposition
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40% to 60% of addiction is genetic.
When you can separate the disease of addiction from the addict themselves, a great peace follows.
The disease of addiction is within the addict and doesn’t care who it hurts or betrays. The voice of the addict is crying out for help and escape from the disease currently in control of their life.
4. A Higher Power Is Important
Contrary to popular belief, a Higher Power is not associated with religion. This is not about attempting to indoctrinate anyone into a certain belief system.
The disease is in control, and the addict is losing the fight. The addict needs something outside themselves to help regain control of their life.
The Higher Power is a source of hope that things will get better. It shows the addict the strength they already had but didn’t realize was there.
5. It’s a Family Disease
While 40%-60% is genetic, the other half is fueled by family dynamics, trauma, and poor coping skills.
Most of us have heard of the Enabler-Addict dynamics. This is where addiction is supported by those in the addict’s environment.
This is not about blame. It’s about responsibility. And for lasting recovery, the family dynamics also need to shift, which is why Family Therapy is important, as well.
From Surviving to Thriving
Addiction thrives under a cloud of isolation, secrecy, regret, and suffering. It does not discriminate based on age, sex, race, or income level.
For those who’ve experienced it, addiction can feel insurmountable. But when you arm yourself with the facts, recovery becomes a possibility.