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Addiction Online Resource Guide

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Teens are at risk for developing an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or things such as Internet use, video games, or gambling. These addictions can cause lifelong problems with personal and professional relationships. Parents can play a pivotal role in helping to ensure their children's ongoing health by staying actively involved with their activities, monitoring for potential symptoms of abuse and addiction, and intervening quickly if problems are perceived.

Drug Addiction

People battling drug addiction have been found to be suffering from a brain disease that causes compulsive cravings for drugs and leads to erratic and unsound behavior. Controlled substances create surges of neurochemicals that cause strong feelings of pleasure. These rushes motivate repeated use to try to replicate the pleasurable feelings. With repeated drug use, however, the body develops a tolerance to the drugs, which necessitates using more of the substance to get the same effects. Repeated use also dulls the body's response to natural pleasure stimuli. This disease may develop at any age, including childhood. Left untreated, it can have devastating consequences. Even with treatment, the addicted person will need to remain cognizant of potential triggers throughout life to prevent a relapse.

Alcohol Addiction

Many adults use alcohol moderately without abusing it or developing an addiction. Unfortunately, the federal government estimates that about 18 million adults in America abuse alcohol, which involves using this substance to the point where it causes harm or problems. Dependence on alcohol involves strong cravings, the inability to control drinking after starting, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, and a developing tolerance that requires more alcohol to produce the desired effects. Researchers have pinpointed a link between drinking before age 15 and the development of an alcohol addiction later in life. This connection highlights the importance of education about and prevention of alcohol consumption for teenagers to promote wellness.

Other Addictions

Behavioral addictions are a different type of addiction that shares some characteristics and symptoms with chemical addictions but does not involve controlled substances such as drugs or alcohol. A person struggling with a behavioral addiction will need to perform a specific activity or behavior more frequently as time goes by to derive the desired effects. When not engaging in the activity, withdrawal feelings such as irritability and restlessness occur. A person will likely experience obsessive thinking about and planning of the next activity, and the behavior will persist even when negative consequences occur. Behavioral addictions can include activities such as gambling, shopping, Internet use, sex, pornography, and gaming. Eating disorders also fall under the umbrella of addictive behaviors, and affected people may be afflicted by anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or compulsive eating. Treatment of these types of addictions involves an admission of the problem and then examining the causes of the problematic behavior to discover triggers and learn alternative ways of coping in a more positive manner.

Preventing Addiction

Because addiction can have such disastrous impacts on both physical and emotional health, prevention is vitally important, especially with young people. Screening processes by health and other professionals may help with catching risky behavior before it develops into a full-fledged addiction. Education programs in schools and from community-based organizations help teach young people about the dangers of substance abuse and other types of addictions. This education may help kids resist social pressures and make more positive decisions about their activities and behaviors. Education and awareness can also help adolescents learn positive ways to cope with anxiety and stress instead of turning to a substance.

National Organizations

Many organizations operate within the United States to educate people about addictions and to raise awareness about these issues. These organizations offer support to addicts as well as support for family members and friends who are often affected negatively by the behaviors of the addicted. Contacting organizations can help you uncover the severity of a problem and its potential effects. Some organizations may also offer information about financial assistance to help people without the means to pay for treatment.

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