Those who have never struggled with addiction often view drug and alcohol dependency as a single illness, one that can be cured through simple willpower and a desire to live a sober life. 

But those who have struggled with addiction know better, and they also know that drug and alcohol addiction is not a single illness.

Addiction is a Disease

Addiction is a disease. Often addiction, substance use disorder, can have multifaceted problems associated with. 

Some factors may include a personal history of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, problems with employment or interpersonal relationships, and complex family dynamics that must be carefully unpacked and treated. 

Whether you are struggling with your own addiction or seeking help for someone you love, it is important, to begin with, a basic understanding of what addiction is, and what it is not.

Dual Diagnosis and Addiction

As you learn more about drug and alcohol addiction and the intricacies of these serious and potentially deadly illnesses, you may hear the term dual diagnosis, but what do these words mean and what role will they play as you seek treatment for yourself or a loved one?

The term dual diagnosis may seem overly scientific, but the concept behind it is very easy to understand. 

Dual diagnosis simply means that problems with drugs and alcohol rarely exist in a vacuum and that they typically present in conjunction with other issues – issues that may include ongoing problems with family members, issues with employment, and historical struggles with various forms of abuse.

The 9 Most Common Addictions in America

Men and women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol may also suffer from a variety of other addictions. 

Some of these addictions are other forms of drug abuse, while others manifest as dependence on other, more seemingly benign, substances. 

As you delve into the world of addiction and seek help for yourself or your loved one, you can start by learning more about the 9 most common addictions in America today, dependencies that include: 

  1. Alcohol – Alcohol addiction is a dangerous problem in America, with repercussions that range from drunk driving crashes, injuries and deaths, and shattered families, to liver disease and other serious health ailments. 
  1. Marijuana – There has been a concerted effort to legalize marijuana in recent years, not only for medicinal purposes but recreationally as well. As those efforts have proceeded, the number of marijuana addictions has skyrocketed, creating a dangerous situation for millions of American families. 
  1. Painkillers – The use of powerful painkillers, especially opioids, has created a crisis of addiction in America and elsewhere. While first touted as being less addictive than the medications they replaced, the new wave of opioid painkillers has proved to be incredibly addictive, and millions of Americans are now paying the price. 
  1. Cocaine – Its use may not be as widespread as it once was, but cocaine addiction remains a major problem throughout the United States. From powdered cocaine to highly addictive variants like crack, this drug remains a deadly problem for many Americans. 
  1. Heroin – Heroin use never really went away, but this dangerous drug has made a comeback in recent years. Seen by many as a cheap and readily available alternative to prescription opioids, heroin is widely used, and potentially deadly. 
  1. Benzodiazepines – Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as their street-bought counterparts, and benzodiazepine addiction is a case in point. These drugs are highly addictive, readily available, and widely abused throughout the country. 
  1. Stimulants – Also known as uppers, stimulants are used for a variety of reasons, from weight loss to inducing euphoria. But no matter how they are used, stimulants can be powerfully addictive. 
  1. Inhalants – Inhalants like paint thinners and aerosols are also highly addictive, and their legal status makes them particularly difficult to control. The fact that inhalants are available in virtually every home makes these addictive substances attractive to teens and young adults in particular. 
  1. Sedatives – Whether they are used to promote healthy sleep or ease anxiety, sedatives are widely used in the United States. Unfortunately, sedatives can also be highly addictive, very dangerous, and even deadly. 

If you are someone you care about is struggling with addiction, you need to seek help and you need to do it right away. The sooner you act the better off you or your loved one will be.