A Brighter Tomorrow - Addiction
The American Psychiatric Association describes addiction as a brain disease characterized by compulsive substance abuse despite harmful consequences.
The APA says people with addiction develop an intense focus on certain substances to the point that it takes over their lives. Experts say changes in the brain's wiring causes people to have cravings for these substances and is what makes it so hard to stop using. According to the APA, people with addictive disorders may be aware of their problem, but be unable to stop it even if they want to.
Treatments are available for addiction, and many people have recovered. They include hospitalization, therapy, sober houses and outpatient programs.
Mental health experts say abuse of drugs and alcohol is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death.