There are five things that characterize addiction:

1. It is a disease (an involuntary disability).

2. It is often progressive and fatal. (It gets worse with time and you can die from it.)

3. There are adverse consequences. (These can be psychological, physical, occupational, legal, interpersonal, and spiritual.)

4. There is impaired control. (An addict can no longer predict what will occur when he uses.)

5. There is denial. (A delusional system that prevents the user from recognizing reality.)

Addiction Always Plays Itself Out in Four Phases:

PHASE ONE is the first use and can only occur once. It moves the person's feelings in a welcome direction, towards the euphoria, and it feels good for most people. They learn how much to take to feel good (the dosage). Because it's pleasant, they move on to Phase Two.

Seeking Out the Mood Swing:

PHASE TWO is where the person seeks out the mood swing. He will seek out situations where he can use drugs and experience the mood swing and enjoy it. However, if he is in Phase Two, he will do this within the norms of society. In other words, he will still function in his normal everyday life, and no one will notice any contradictions. Once in awhile he may use drugs to excess, but there is no emotional cost, no remorse over it. He will say things like, "I blew it. It won't happen again." However, for those that have the disease, something occurs that moves them to Phase Three (harmful dependence). At this next stage the person exhibits a loss of control.

Loss of Control:

PHASE THREE is an impairment or a loss of control. The person can no longer predict the outcome of his behavior. It violates his values and causes remorse or emotional pain about what occurred. There are negative feelings that trigger denial (rationalize, minimize, blame), which leads to unresolved emotional pain. A person in denial is literally incapable of realizing that he is addicted. As the disease progresses, Phase Three will occur over and over again. The unresolved emotional pain builds and builds and builds. But the pain is still connected to some wrong done while using drugs. Eventually, the emotional pain becomes chronic. It is there all the time, even when the person is not using drugs. He is angry, resentful, and his self esteem has fallen through the bottom. He says things like, "I'm no damn good" and is sometimes even suicidal.

Covering Up the Chronic Emotional Pain:

PHASE FOUR is using drugs to feel normal. The negative feelings are present all of the time. The person must use his drug to escape from his pain and try and feel normal. It works, and it can trigger another sequence of more trouble and more loss of control. This is the point where an addict will reach his "bottom," where we can get him into treatment, if we haven't intervened before this time.

Throw the "Willpower" Concept Out the Window:

Addition is not a willpower issue. It is a chemical dependence and should be treated medically, initially, and later psychologically. Once an addict has been medically weaned off his drug, he must undergo both individual and group therapy to build the necessary ego strength to live life without drugs.

If Your Loved One is Struggling with Addiction:

If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is a book that I would recommend. It's called "I'll Quit Tomorrow" by Vernon Johnson. It goes into what I have written, but in more detail, and will assist you in getting your loved one into treatment.

The good news about addiction is that it is a treatable disease. With the correct information and family support, an addict can enter recovery and remain abstinent from drugs for the rest of his life.

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Pope has been writing short stories, articles, novellas, and vignettes for the past 13 years, and her work has appeared in several online publications, including Helium, HubPages, Haute Mama Magazine, Triond, WebUpon Magazine, HealthMad Magazine, Socyberty Magazine, Gomestic Magazine, Authspot Magazine, This Month Magazine, Quietpoly Writers’ Magazine, Experts Column, The Daily Topic, Frazzled Families Magazine, and in literary magazines, Lily, The Pow Wow Paper, and Long Story Short.

Jenna has also worked as a copywriter for Textbroker and Clickworker, writing extensive SEO advertising copy.

Jenna also has four blogs on the internet: Blogger: Jenna Pope Writes, Caring Catholic Convert, Blogfrog: Jenna’s Jewels – Articles Galore! Community, and Caring Catholic Community.

Jenna has won several short-story contests and had a short story published in the winter, 2003 issue of AIM Magazine and an essay published in literary magazine, Evening Street Review’s 2011 spring addition.

Jenna was also published in an anthology entitled Helium Holidays 2010 on Amazon at:

Jenna also holds a college certificate in alcohol and drug counseling and was a legal secretary/paralegal for 30 years.

Ms. Pope and her husband have four grown children and four grandbabies. They live in Southern California with their very spoiled pets.