Addiction can mean many things to many people. Addiction causes brain and body dependencies to substances or activities. The dependencies go beyond a person’s ability to control them. The Allegheny County Bureau of Drug and Alcohol uses the American Society of Addiction Medicine definition that states, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”
Substance addiction is a complex illness. Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs/substances. Despite the substantial harm the addiction can cause, the person continues the behavior because it is pleasurable or valuable to the individual.
Substance addiction includes any substances that are taken into the body. Substances can be taken in different ways. The most common ways are by mouth, nose or through a vein. Substances can be street drugs (heroin, cocaine, meth, mollies, etc.), alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications (when used improperly).
The lives of people with substance addictions can be affected in many harmful ways. The harmful effects can include the inability to meet basic needs (shelter, food, clothing, etc.). Services through the Allegheny County Bureau of Drug and Alcohol are available to assist individuals in rebuilding their lives after addiction and in beginning their recoveries. Recovery, as defined by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Having assistance on the path to recovery is crucial to people with addictions to remain in recovery.
For more information and resources, visit our website at www.alleghenycounty.us/Human-Services/Programs-Services/Disabilities/Drugs-and-Alcohol.aspx.
(Dr. Latika Davis-Jones has served as the administrator of Allegheny County’s Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services since 2011. She also is an adjunct professor in Pitt’s School of Social Work.)
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