Addiction is a chronic, but treatable, brain disorder. People who are addicted cannot control their need for alcohol or other drugs, even in the face of negative health, social, or legal consequences. This lack of control is the result of alcohol- or drug-induced changes in the brain. Those changes, in turn, cause behavior changes.Addiction grows more serious over time. Substance use disorders travel along a continuum. This progression can be measured by the amount, frequency, and context of a person’s substance use. As their illness deepens, addicted people need more alcohol or other drugs; they may use more often and use in situations they never imagined when they first began to drink or take drugs. The illness becomes harder to treat, and the related health problems, such as organ disease, become worse.

Symptoms of addiction include tolerance (development of resistance to the effects of alcohol or other drugs over time) and withdrawal, a painful or unpleasant physical response when the substance is withheld. Many people with this illness deny that they are addicted. They often emphasize that they enjoy drinking or taking other drugs.

People recovering from addiction can experience a lack of control and return to their substance use at some point in their recovery process. This faltering, common among people with most chronic disorders, is called relapse. To ordinary people, relapse is one of the most perplexing aspects of addiction. Millions of Americans who want to stop using addictive substances suffer tremendously, and relapses can be quite discouraging.

Source: HBO: Addiction.
Web: What is Addiction?

The following screening tool – the UNCOPE – is provided to help assess your concerns about adult substance abuse. This self-evaluation, of course, does not replace a formal evaluation by an addictions or mental health professional. If, after answering the questions, you have concerns about the possibility of substance abuse negatively impacting your life or the life of an adult you care for, we recommend that you please call a customer service representative at (779) 368-0060 from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday or Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and make an appointment to meet with an addictions or mental health professional.

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