Defined: Addiction/Severe Substance Disorder

By The BroglieBox Team
5 min read

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life.

People can develop an addiction to:
– Alcohol
– Marijuana
– PCP, LSD, and other hallucinogens
– Inhalants (such as paint thinners, glue, etc.)
– Opioid pain killers (such as codeine, oxycodone, heroin, etc.)
– Sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytix (and medicines for anxiety such as tranquilizers)
– Cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants
– Tobacco
– Non substances include: Food, Caffeine, Sex, Pornography, Gambling (and Internet Gambling) Disorder

Changes in the brain’s wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the drug and make it hard to stop using the drug. Over time people with addiction build up a tolerance, meaning they need larger amounts to feel the effects. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control. However, people with addictive disorders may be aware of their problem, but be unable to stop it even if they want to. The addiction may cause health problems as well as problems at work and with family members and friends. The misuse of drugs and alcohol is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death.

Many people experience both mental illness and addiction. The mental illness may be present before the addiction. Or the addiction may trigger or make a mental disorder worse. Symptoms of substance use disorder are grouped into four categories:

1) Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use.
2) Social problems: substance use causes failure to complete major tasks at work, school or home; social, work or leisure activities are given up or cut back because of substance use.
3) Risky use: substance is used in risky settings; continued use despite known problems.
4) Drug effects: tolerance (need for larger amounts to get the same effect); withdrawal symptoms (different for each substance)

Treatments for addiction are available. The first step on the road to recovery is recognition of the problem. The recovery process can be hindered when a person denies having a problem and lacks understanding about substance misuse and addiction. The intervention of concerned friends and family often prompts treatment. A health professional can conduct a formal assessment of symptoms to see if a substance use disorder exists.

Treatment may also include:
– Hospitalization
– Therapeutic communities (highly controlled, drug free environments) or sober homes
– Outpatient programs
– Self help groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous)
– Family groups (Al-anon, Nar-Anon Family Group)


BroglieBox, LLC is not a licensed therapy service. BroglieBox, LLC is not intended to replace professional treatment. 

At this time, we can recommend the below resources: 
Talk Space or Better Help (Online/Virtual Therapy)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
The Buddy Project (For loneliness and peer support)
Crisis Text Line (For Depression and Self Harm)
Suicide Prevention Hotline (For Self Harm and Suicide Prevention)

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