We have established that an addiction is an unhealthy relationship with a substance or behavioural pattern in which the addict interacts with continually, disregarding the increasingly obvious negative consequences to not only the addict, but the people around the addict.
People use addictive substances or engage in addictive behaviour to escape, relax, or to reward themselves. Over a period of time, these addictive substances or behaviour, make the addict believe that he or she cannot cope without them, or that, without them, there is no enjoyment in life.
The Prevalence of Addiction in Society
The most commonly discussed addictions are drug and alcohol addiction although, amongst a host of others, addictions such as gaming, gambling and even sexual addictions are receiving more and more attention.
Approximately 10% of any population is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction is more common than diabetes, which occurs in approximately 7% of the population.
Addiction crosses all socio-economic boundaries. 10% of teachers, 10% of plumbers, and 10% of CEOs have an addiction.
The terms alcohol addiction, alcoholism, and alcohol dependence are all equivalent. The same is true for the terms drug addiction and drug dependence.
Causes of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Addictive substances or activities feel good because they stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain through neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid which is an amino acid that is the second most prevalent neurotransmitter in the brain). A genetic pre-disposition to addictions results in the use of substances or engagements in activities not simply creating that “feel-good” experience but also the desire to pursue that experience actively and want more.
With a genetic pre-disposition, addictive substances feel so good that the addict is more than willing to suffer negative consequences and ignore the consequences and effect the addiction has on those around him or her, in order to get more and to continue to feel the “high” that the addiction provides.
Addictive substances react differently inside an addict’s brain than they do in the brain of a non-addict, which is why the two have difficulty in understanding each other. With someone who is not addicted, drugs and alcohol only produce a mild “high” and therefore a non-addict cannot understand why the addict would go to such lengths, when it is clearly destroying their life and negatively affecting the lives of those around them.
Denial is a big part of addiction. Because addictive substances feel good, an addict will initially deny that they have a problem. In the long-run, addiction isolates the addict from the people and activities that, under normal circumstances, without the addiction, would take precedence
The Cost of Addiction
SA drug statistics as of 2012
- Drug consumption in South Africa is twice the world norm.
- 15% of South Africa’s population have a drug problem.
- Drug abuse is costing South Africa R20-billion a year and could pose a bigger threat to the country’s future than the Aids pandemic.
- According to SAPS figures, 60% of crimes nationally were related to substance abuse. In the Western Cape, the figure was closer to 80%. The perpetrators of these crimes are either under the influence of substances, or trying to secure money for their next fix.
- In 2004, government disbanded the SA Narcotics Bureau (SANAB), a dedicated drug-fighting unit within the SAPS that had achieved some notable successes. Since its closure, drug related crimes have increased exponentially – in fact by 30%.
- The recently-released United Nations World Drug Report had named South Africa as one of the drug capitals of the world.
- The abuse of alcohol and usage of dagga has led to the country to being one of the top ten narcotics and alcohol abusers in the world.
- One Rand in four in circulation in SA is linked to the substance abuse problem. (CDA-Bayever)
- Drug arrests leapt from 300 in 2006 to 1500 in 2012 in Cape Town. (source Time Live)
The above article only refers to addiction to substances and alcohol and frightening enough without examining other addictions.
Consequences of Addiction
The most important consequences of addiction are social, emotional, and psychological with the physical and economic consequences of addiction being the most considered. Poor health and loss of income are very late stage consequences and the tendency of an addict is to assume that good health and being employed are confirmation that the addiction is not that serious.
Employment is usually the last to suffer since income is needed to pay the bills and support the addiction. Once employment begins to suffer, the addict is no longer a functioning addict but a non-functioning addict.
The damage addiction does to relationships and true self confidence is far more damaging and takes longer to repair. The negative impact on family, friends and true self confidence by discarding either partially or entirely, the truly important things in life to focus on the addiction, has far-reaching consequences. The disappointment shown by loved ones is often a key motivating factor for embarking on recovery from addiction yet sometimes even that disappointment is not enough to motivate an addict to seek help.
Eden Recovery Centre has all the necessary resources, to assist with recovery of not only the addict, but those loved ones affected both directly and indirectly by the addiction.
Contact us today on:
Tel: 011 244 9916 / 8
24-Hour Helpline: 060 344 7808
Fax: 011 244 9917
Visit us at:
438 Chattan Road