Chronic – Once you have developed an addiction, you will always have to deal with it. You may manage to stop using alcohol or other drugs for significant periods of time,but for most the disease doesn’t disapear but rather goes into remission. Should you attempt to resume“normal”use, you will rapidly return to addictive, out of control use and abuse.
Progressive – Addiction gets worse over time. With some drugs, the decline is rapid; with others, like alcohol, it can be more gradual, but it does get worse. Alcohol and other drugs cause a biochemical change in the nervous system that can persist even after the substance leaves the blood. Repeated use causes progressive damage.
Primary – Addiction is not just a symptom of some underlying psychological problem, a developmental stage or a reaction to stress. Once your use of alcohol or drugs has become an addiction, the addiction itself needs to be medically treated as the primary illness.
Terminal – Addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs often leads to disease and possibly death.
Characterized by denial – One of the most disturbing and confusing aspects of addiction is that it is characterized by denial. The user denies that his/her use is out of control or that it is causing any problems at home or on the job. The user often seems to be the last to know that his/her life is out of control. There are effective strategies employed by professionals for helping to break through this denial, which must be overcome before treatment can take place.