Addiction, obesity, starvation (anorexia nervosa) are political problems, not psychiatric: each condense and expresses a contest between the individual and some other person or persons in his environment over the control of the individual’s body.
Thomas Szasz

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.
Barbara J. Winter

What is addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing and treatable, brain disease which is characterised by a person becoming obsessed with the use of drugs, alcohol, gambling and/or sex. People who have addiction problems often come from families where there is a history of addiction. Scientists believe that 50% of addiction is genetic. Addiction is not a moral failure, but a widely-recognised and well-researched disease that can be effectively treated.

The difference between substance abuse and substance dependence
Substance abuse: This is a problematic pattern of substance use where people develop problems as a result of their drinking or drug use such as regularly drinking and driving, being arrested for drinking and driving, problems at school, work or home caused by drinking or drug use. This means that if a person regularly drinks and drives they have a problem. Similarly, if a person regularly has arguments with family members about their drinking or drug use, they have a problem. About 20% of men and 10% of women will have an alcohol abuse problem at some point in their lives. Substance abuse can develop into a more serious problem where the person loses control of their life and their using. This is called substance dependence.

Substance dependence is more serious than substance abuse, and is when a person carries on drinking or using drugs even though they know that it is causing problems.They may show tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and spend a lot of time using the substance, trying to get hold of it, or recovering from the effects of using the substance. Often when a person is dependent or addicted to drugs they cannot stop using even if they want to. We see this is as being a disease which requires treatment. If a person does not receive treatment they could hurt themselves, others, or worse still die form the disease. About 10% of men and 3-5% of women will develop alcohol dependence during their lifetimes.

Some interesting facts and figures on addiction
- One in four families are affected by addiction
- Drug-related deaths have more than doubled since the early 1980s
- There are more deaths, illness and disabilities from substance abuse than from any
other preventable health condition
- In the US, 75 000 people die every year as a result of excessive alcohol use
- A recent SA study at a single high school showed 5% of learners drink daily and 17%
smoke cannabis daily.
- People who regularly drink or use drugs before the age of 15 years are 4-5
times more likely to develop addiction problems than those waiting until 21 years of
- 90% of all people with addiction problems started before the age of 18. 50% of people
with addiction problems started before the age of 15 years.

Treatment works
- Many people are negative and sceptical about the treatment of addiction. Research
shows that treatment for adiction does work. It has about the same success rate as
the treatment of asthma, diabetes, and hypertension.
- 40-70% of people who receive treatment are still clean and sober after 6 months.
- 30-50% of people who receive treatment are still clean and sober after 1 year.
- Going to treatment in the first decade of the problem typically reduces the time
required to get into stable recovery by half.
- Recovery from addiction can be a long-term process and may require multiple
treatment episodes.
- On average teenagers require four treatent episodes before they get into stable
- Relapses are common. This does not mean that treatment has failed. People who
relapse should carry on with their recovery programme, or get help if they have no
one to speak to about the problem.

What to do if you suspect a loved one has a substance use problem
- Confront the person about the problem and insist that they get help.
- Encourage the person to go for an assessment at a treatment centre.
- Drug testing is a useful method of confirming if there is drug use.
- Family members of people with addiction problems also need counselling and support.
Organisations such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and ToughLove are meant for family
members of people with addiction problems.
- The worst thing that you can do is nothing. Addiction thrives on silence. Sometimes,
even just telling a family member how their drinking or drug use effects you can be
the start of the addicted person’s road to recovery.
- Don’t judge. Addiction is not a moral failure.

1 Requiem for a dream
2 Trainspotting
3 Altered states
4 Traffic
5 A Scanner Darkly
6 Permanent Midnight
7 The people vs. Larry
8 Drugstore Cowboy
9 Blow
10 Candy

1 Leaving Las Vegas
2 Barfly
3 28 days
4 Clean  and sober
5 There will be blood
6 Days of wine and roses
7 Factotum
8 When a man loves a
9 My name is Bill W.
10 Once were warriors

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