Addicts vs Non-Addicts: Explaining Addiction to a Non-Addict

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Addicts vs Non-Addicts: Explaining Addiction to a Non-Addict

Explaining addiction to a non-addict is not something simple. It’s hard for non-addicts to understand what addiction is and what it does to the addict. Dependence weakens the body, mind, and lifestyle of those who suffer from the disease. Unless you experience it personally, it can be hard to understand.

First of all, a lot of non-addicts get thrown off by the definition of a “disease.” You don’t just outgrow an addiction as you potentially would a disorder. The fact is that addiction is indeed classified as a disease of the brain and body. The compulsive use of substances despite the health risks and other consequences is a daily struggle for abusers.

Is Addiction a Disease?

More than one factor contributes to labeling addiction as a disease. The American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and other notable medical organizations classify addiction as a disease. Addiction impacts not only the abuser but friends and family of the user.

Non-addicts can sometimes find it difficult to understand what is going on with an addict during the abuse, and after sobriety. There is an importance of understanding the differences between addicts vs. non-addicts in a society where addiction is unfortunately all around. In many instances, addicts feel that there is no way of explaining addiction to a non-addict, that there is no way a non-addict can comprehend what they are describing.

Explaining Addiction to a Non-Addict

Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and addiction similarly follow a pattern of remission and relapse. Doctors can manage and treat them, but they cannot cure them. Changes in the brain make addiction more difficult to cope with as you develop a physical dependency.  You lose behavior control which causes the ability to make rational decisions to be destroyed. Willpower just isn’t strong enough for a person to stop using a substance for good on their own. When explaining addiction to a non-addict, it’s essential to understand that addicts’ brains are different, as changes in neurons and circuits do compromise health and decision-making.

Although addiction is a misunderstood disease, it is a highly known issue. So why would people begin substances if there’s a risk to addiction? You may also find yourself wondering how to understand a drug addict, especially if you’re close to one. When it comes to understanding a drug addict, you must know that addiction can happen to anyone. Although you do risk addiction when an addictive substance is first used, not everyone thinks of it. Sort of like when a decadent dessert sits in your reach, and even though you don’t want the consequences of eating it, you must try it. Of course, refraining from sweets is less difficult than restraining from drug use. The environment may play a strong role when others introduce substances to you.

Does Environment Play a Role?

A person’s regular environment revolves around friends, family, lifestyle activities, and economic status. With these factors, an environment could also include peer pressure, potential abuse, stress, and exposure to drugs. When explaining addiction to a non-addict, the non-addict may have a hard time understanding the initial cause of substance abuse. For every addiction, different factors take a part of why it was initially started.

Other than the environment, a person’s genetic makeup can also present a mental disorder. This is especially difficult to understand because unless you’re pre-diagnosed, the addiction is not necessarily foreseen.

There are also stages in an individual’s life that also affect a person’s risk of addiction. Teens are in a dangerous and vulnerable time of their lives where drug use is deemed trendy. It sounds horrible, and it is. The brain of teenagers is also still in development, especially the areas responsible for decision-making. This creates vulnerability because of the lack of judgment and self-control which may lead to impulsive drug use.

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No Person Chooses to Be an Addict

For those who suffer from addiction, the power of choice ends after the initial substance use. Explaining addiction to a non-addict may be difficult when non-addicts can sometimes judge a person by their initial actions. Environmental factors can take place with any age group. It is common that all sorts of people are presented with an opportunity to try substances. It’s not always easy to say no to drugs or alcohol.

Drugs and alcohol affect dopamine levels. Dopamine plays a vital role in motivation, emotion, and pleasure feelings. When a person uses an addictive substance, over time they will build a tolerance for the drug.  Seldom, a person thinks ahead and predicts how their body and brain will respond to initial drug use. No one chooses to be an addict, and many people are also not aware of the risks of common prescription drugs.

Addiction and Mental Issues

No matter how they try, an individual cannot overcome addiction alone. However much the person suffering wants to quit, other associated issues make it nearly impossible on their own. Other problems may include withdrawal symptoms and co-occurring mental health disorders. Mental health disorders are prevalent to co-exist with addiction. It’s important when learning how to understand an addict, that more than one issue will exist with addiction sufferers.

Psychological issues can make a person susceptible to addiction, but can also occur after the addiction begins. Severe mental illnesses can make a person one-half times more likely to go through substance abuse. Mood disorders, panic/anxiety disorders, and personality disorders all have a considerable amount of susceptibility to addiction. Diseases of these criteria include bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. People suffering from anxiety and mood disorders are two times more likely to develop an addiction. Some people find it difficult to learn how to explain an addiction because they may hide information on their mental health status.

Co-Occurring Disorders or Dual Diagnosis

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, those with schizophrenia are actually four times more likely to develop an addiction issue, and bipolar disorders are more than five times. Working in reverse, people who have suffered from addiction are likely to have a mental illness. Among alcoholics, mental illnesses play a key role. Anxiety and PTSD are classified as the most diagnosed illnesses among alcoholics. When a person struggles with addiction and mental illnesses, it is called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

The treatments for dual diagnosis often address the problems associated with both problem areas. Treatment centers that treat coinciding issues tend to have the best results in life management and sobriety. Mental illnesses and addiction both can be classified as diseases. Physicians cannot cure addiction, but they can adequately manage it with the appropriate treatment. Mental illnesses are not all diseases, although some have the same criteria when it comes to management and coping vs. curing.

Seek Treatment for Addiction

Addiction has been an advancing issue in the United States in the past and currently. Measures of awareness are making an impact, although millions of people are still presently affected. With a low rate of treatment-seeking individuals among these numbers, the suffering continues. You can attain sobriety with the right guided treatment programs. When it comes to explaining addiction to a non-addict, people do not always want to admit their troubles. If you will address the addiction as early as possible,  you will achieve a considerable benefit by receiving earlier treatment, and quicker sobriety.

The help you need is just around the corner with the best-fit treatment program for specific and individual needs. Contact A Forever Recovery and speak with professional counselors to guide you through the steps of recovery. They can answer any questions you may have about how to explain addiction.


  • – Comorbidity of Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders

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