On Crank and Glass

Why Kristina Can't Just Quit

By Mary Bryan

Addiction is a puzzle, difficult to understand because it is different in each person. It is a disease of the brain, but it is not just physical. It’s also psychological, social, neurological, and environmental. Addiction is not secondary to another condition like a mental health disorder. It is a primary condition; the addictive disease is what causes the drinking and/or drug use, not the other way around.

Some of the predictors of addiction include physical or sexual abuse, family history of substance abuse or alcoholism, depression, anxiety, conduct disturbances, personality disorders, poor coping skills, chaotic living environment, and heavy tobacco use, and one study even mentions previous multiple automobile accidents. But while there are high-risk predictors, many people who have all of them do not become addicts, and people who have none of the predictors do become addicts. No one can predict accurately who will become addicted and who will not.

The Addictive Process

The general pattern of addiction is one of progression. There is no turning back. An addict cannot back up and start over as if they never drank or used drugs before. Even addicts who remained clean for many years report that their behavior became out of control again almost immediately when they returned to drinking or drug use. While there is no simple cure for addiction, it can be treated by behavior changes that remove the addict from the places, people, and activities their brain associates with substance use.

The severity of addiction runs the gamut from minimal to ultimate. In minimal addiction, the addict can still operate in the world. They are generally able to get to work, take care of  …

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