Addiction and Dependency

Explaining Addiction and why it is considered a Brain Disease

At its origin, addictive was regarded as the habitual engagement in behaviour with either positive or negative implications. However, over time, the concept has been framed to incorporate the notions of strong and overpowering urges, and later took a disease-like connotation (Sussman & Sussman, 2011). Hence, addiction as a disease underlines the central nervous system imbalances resulting from addictive behaviors. It is a relapsing disorder constituting preoccupation, intoxication, and withdrawal, which intensifies and results in the pathological state. Addiction progression involves changes in the normal circuitry of the brain that lead to neuroplastic changes, thus its categorization as a brain disease. Due to the family-associated stigmatization of addiction as shameful behaviour, clinicians have implemented family therapy as a systems approach to curing the identified patient and the beliefs of the members of the client’s social circle. The approach exploits the strengths and resources of the family to identify and develop ways to live without substance abuse and to ameliorate the effect of chemical dependency on the family and the identified patient. The therapist focuses on the familial relationships as the point of intervention and therapeutic interest, hence facilitating problem solving and discussion sessions with all the members affected by the disorder.

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Understanding Substance Misuse, Substance Use Disorder, Addiction, and Substance Withdrawal

Substance misuse entails the harmful use of substances like alcohol or drugs, especially for non-medical purposes. In most circumstances, it refers to the individual’s use of the illegal drugs, although the legal substances like prescription medications, alcohol, volatile substances, and caffeine or nicotine can be abused (McClellan, 2017). Therefore, the act underscores the use of drugs in harmful ways.

Differently, substance use disorder denotes the diagnosable illness resulting from the prolonged and repeated use of substances at high dosages or frequencies. The condition significantly impairs the individual’s health and function to the extent of requiring specialized treatment. Substance use disorder can be mild and temporary or severe and chronic, with the latter defining the addiction problem.

Hence, addiction is the chronic disorder resulting from the prolonged and repeated overdosing and overuse of legal or illegal substances. In other words, it is severe substance use disorder, which defines the psychological urge for a drug associated with the regular and continued use. The concept explains the individual’s preoccupation with behavior and the excessive thoughts and desires to engage in certain actions. However, addiction does not relate only to the use of substances, it also incorporates the preoccupation with behaviors that serve hedonistic motives. For example, gambling or sex are addictive behaviors that help the individual achieve a fantasy or acquire a subjective self-concept through experience.

Differently, substance withdrawal denotes the symptoms that emerge after the individual stops using a medication or substance such as alcohol. The minimization of addictive behaviors tends to contribute to symptoms like hallucinations or seizures. The condition can develop before or after hospitalization and can be diagnosed separately from related substance disorders.

Explaining Drug Interactions

The use of different medications can result in drug interactions that can pose desired, reduced, or unwanted outcomes. According to Cascorbi (2012), the likelihood for interactions becomes higher when the individual increases the number of drugs used. The antagonistic interaction of medications is common with the combination of ACE inhibitors with diuretics like amiloride. If the two interact, there is the increase in the retention of potassium, which could lead to the development of life-threatening hyperkalemia.

Alternatively, the synergistic effects of the use of numerous drugs denote the mutually potentiating outcomes. The use of drugs that boost the efficacy of treatment is highly pursued objective in the development of combinational medications. The synergistic drugs are usually considered more specific in therapy and highly efficacious. They mostly do not interfere with the qualitative element of the combination but target specific disease pathways to provide relief.

Besides, the additive interactions of drugs differs with the synergistic interaction in that the latter works at a greater combination of agents. The additive effect is mostly the baseline outcome of the detection of synergy. In the absence of synergistic interactions, the use of multiple medications implies the enhancement of the disease outcomes with the utilization of two or more drugs

Symptoms and Characteristics of Gambling Disorders

Gambling can occur as either the pathological or problem kind of gambling. In pathological gambling, the individual develops persistent and maladaptive behaviors. Some of the defining characteristics include the concept of preoccupation, which defines the frequent thoughts about experiences of past, present, or fantasy gambling. The gambler becomes preoccupied and constantly plans to acquire more money to stake. Besides, the individual tries to control and cutback the behavior, albeit without success.

In some cases, gambling is considered an addiction, despite its absence on the DSM-IV classification with the other addictions. However, gambling is seen as having the potential to intensify existing substance use disorder. The two are linked through the tolerance and withdrawal where the gambler may resort to using more alcohol or other substances to enhance tolerance with gambling behaviour.

Coping with Substance Affected Members

Families can cope with members affected by substance use disorders by becoming aware of their own needs. These include an understanding of the reason for the use of substances. Hence, the family gets to know what brings about the addiction so they may not ignore or develop false beliefs that perpetuate stigma. The family members also need to understand their role in causing the individual to engage in substance use. This shifts the balance of power from the identified patient to enable a comprehensive assessment of the underlying causative factors. Besides, the family can cope with substance use if the understand how a member’s indulgence affects their relationships, especially on those who do not abuse drugs. Furthermore, family therapy helps the members identify and select the right inpatient or inpatient interventions if need be, which helps them deal better with the problem. Lastly, the family participates in the treatment process to ensure that the removal of the addiction benefits not only the identified patient but the family as a whole.

The self-labelling or labelling by others regarding the use of substances bears implications that include the cultivation of a climate of expectation that causes alienation and the greater tendency to abuse substances. Hence, the impact is on the self-concept is based on the stigmatization that is generated from the negative outlook the family develops of the addiction. This can serve to aggravate substance use since the individual has to cope with the negativity surrounding his or her presence within the family.

Lastly, the beneficial information about addiction in a family education group is the importance of social relationships in managing addictive behaviors. Specifically, group therapy is instrumental in limiting the stigmatization and isolation tendencies toward the identified patient. Hence, developing a positive outlook of the addicted individual by understanding the reasons for his or her behavior and how family relationships may contribute enables better coping with the problem.



Cascorbi I. (2012). Drug interactions–principles, examples and clinical consequences. Deutsches Arzteblatt international109(33-34), 546–556. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2012.0546

Jazaeri, S. A., & Habil, M. H. (2012). Reviewing two types of addiction – pathological gambling and substance use. Indian journal of psychological medicine34(1), 5–11. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.96147

McLellan A. T. (2017). Substance Misuse and Substance use Disorders: Why do they Matter in Healthcare?. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association128, 112–130.

Roell, K. R., Reif, D. M., & Motsinger-Reif, A. A. (2017). An introduction to terminology and methodology of chemical synergy—perspectives from across Disciplines. Frontiers in Pharmacology8, 158.

Sussman, S., & Sussman, A. N. (2011). Considering the definition of addiction. International journal of environmental research and public health8(10), 4025–4038. doi:10.3390/ijerph8104025