A person can develop an addiction to alcohol, drugs, overeating, gambling, and even social media. Addiction medicine doctor, John Lehtinen, says it's a disease. However, what makes the usage of some of these things an addiction?
"In a nutshell, it's three C's and a D. They continue to use, despite adverse consequences and they cannot control their use. Many times they will tell you, 'I don't have a problem,'" said Dr. John Lehtinen.
When someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, it changes the chemistry of their brain. Usage of substances affects parts of the brain where they have no conscious control. If use continues, the brain starts to develop holes in it.
"Once brain chemistry has changed, they are driven to these types of behaviors. Continued use of a substance continues to be a particular problem for them," Lehtinen said.
It takes a year of restraint of any substances for the brain to heal. Even then, people run a high risk of relapsing.
How can it be treated? Doctors say external factors can play a role, so a lifestyle change may be needed.
So at MGH'S Center for Intensive Addiction Services, they offer programs tailored to help you change how you behave and think of your addiction.
"Medication management, talk therapy, education; basicly what do you do for fun. We discuss hobbies that put a smile on your face in a day," said Robert Ruuska, Behavioral Health Counselor.
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