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Addiction as a Chronic Illness

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Addiction as a Chronic Illness

Donnell Parker

PS370-01 Health Psychology

January 17, 2012

Chronic illness refers to conditions that have the following conditions: The condition involves some disability; it is caused by mostly nonreversible pathological change; and it requires training and motivation on the part of the patient to care for himself or herself. The onset of chronic illness can be sudden or gradual, but one characteristic common to all chronic illnesses is that the patient cannot fully return to the pre-illness state of health (Friedman 2002). Some examples of chronic illnesses are AIDS, various forms of cancer, epilepsy and asthma.

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (gambling) that can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work or relationships, even health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others (Iliff 2012). Addictions are another form of chronic illnesses.

Addictions are characterized by relapses in thinking or a return to substance abuse. Relapse is now seen as the rule rather than the exception in addiction recovery. And it is no longer viewed as a catastrophe but as an opportunity for learning more and better strategies for overcoming urges and for identifying the moods and situations that are likely to be difficult.

What is inappropriate is black-and-white thinking about success that turns a slip-up into a disaster and sees it as a sure sign of defeat. The fact is that it takes time to change all the mental apparatus that supports any particular habit-the memories, the situations that trigger craving, and more (Iliff 2012).

Addictions are influenced by behaviors that begin as voluntary choices but evolve into deeply ingrained patterns of behavior that, in the case of addiction, are further exacerbated by neurobiological changes in the brain that weaken volitional control over these contributing behaviors. It can cause permanent changes in the brain and because of this fact, the treatment for addiction is ongoing. Helping a person return to a previous physiological and mental state experienced before acquiring the disorder is not possible.

For the chronically ill, one of the most difficult problems involves relationships with other people. A major ongoing challenge is that of controlling symptoms and hiding them from casual friends and acquaintances. It is difficult to be totally honest because stigmas associated with many illnesses can produce harmful reactions from others.

Many problems of social support for patients may possibly be resolved through various social groups and coping techniques. Any given coping technique for chronic ill- ness can be adaptive in one situation and extremely maladaptive in another. Characteristics of the illness, such as the type and location of symptoms, tend to influence the degree of successful coping with the illness. The health care professional can help patients by setting regular appointments to discuss the on- going treatment (Friedman 2002).

The concept is the same for addicts. There's a higher degree of difficulty because an addict may severely damage many relationships before getting help. Because of an addiction a person will start to change in their work habits and social habits. Not wanting to go to work and eventually getting fired has been done very often. Having a social life with family and friends may cease.

To make sure a constant supply is on hand, an addict may start stealing and eventually get in trouble with the law on a regular basis. Sacrifices will be made on the family household budget to ensure they have a supply. This will lead to an obsession that will make an addict seem unrecognizable to others.

Although having an addiction will cause someone to be secretive and try to hide the affliction, it becomes painfully obvious after a while. Addicts' outward appearance starts to suffer. This is where most relationships reach its breaking point and trying to convince a loved one to get help



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