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Addiction: Frequently Asked Questions
.. Addiction is a disease
.. Abstinence is the only method to control addiction
.. Treatment will help in controlling addiction
.. Treatment can be given at any stage but is easier in the early phase

You ask questions and we'll try to provide answers. Here are some questions people have been asking us. If you don't see a question listed below, or need more explanation or clarification, send us an email. We'll be glad to provide an answer.

What are the common misunderstandings about addiction?

  1. Addicts are bad, misbehaved, lazy or useless people
  2. Addicts should not be treated unless they are violent or fall in gutters and create problems in social setting
  3. People who do not abuse/drink continuously, that is throughout the day, don't have a problem
  4. People who are into substance abuse can be left alone if they earn well and work well
  5. Alcohol, ganja are used in festivals, while cough syrups etc. are medicines, therefore they can be consumed without any harm
  6. Alcohol improves appetite and sexual libido
  7. Smoking filtered cigarette and drinking foreign liquor is fashionable and an occupational etiquette

Is hospitalization always necessary?

Only if the person has a previous history of seizure, delirium or any such complications. Addicts require compulsory hospital admission for physical sickness such as blood pressure, liver or heart related complications.

What is recovery?

A person is on the recovery path when he abstains from or stops the use of addictive substance completely, examines and improves self-thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns; that is he tries to make reasonable changes in his lifestyle. The recovered addict also starts rehabilitating himself in family, job, education and career. He also takes efforts in learning ways to cope with free time, money and relationships, that is channelling energies into positive ways.

What is detoxification?

It is a process in which the patient is administered drugs, diet and a change of atmosphere to break the routine of addiction. Required medical and counselling support is also provided as withdrawal symptoms (commonly called "turkey") like disorientation, sleeplessness, restlessness often occur during detoxification.

What does a rehabilitation center do?

A rehabilitation center helps addicts in the recovery process. The centers usually have an outlined residential program. Use of discipline, creative & constructive routines and psychological treatment methods are the salient features of the centers. The addicts are helped to analyze themselves, confront defensive behaviour and learn coping patterns. The duration of the patient's stay may vary from 34 days to 6 months.

What happens after treatment?

Person comes back educated about his illness, believes that he can remain without addictive substance, and continues with his work. He sees other addicts in worse conditions and remains watchful of his own deterioration if he goes in to relapse. He is also aware of the disadvantages of substance abuse, and that if he does not take proper precautions there are chances of relapse.

What is AA, NA?

AA is Alcoholics Anonymous, a self-help group started by and for the alcoholics.

NA is Narcotics Anonymous, a self-help group for users of narcotic drugs like brown sugar, charas, ganja, cocaine etc.
These groups have free membership, they provide anonymity and a sense of belonging to their members.

Story of birth of AA

It was during the economic downturn in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Bill Wilson, a share broker who was an alcoholic and his wife were living through rough times. Between 1928 and 1930, Bill promised many times that he would give up drinking, but never kept the promise. He also had a habit of putting the rap of his drinking problems on other people and situations. In 1934, while admitted to a hospital, Bill had an enlightening experience that changed his life. "If I can change, why not others?" Bill was constantly plagued by this question. He started having dialogs with other addicts. Talking to other addicts had a good effect on Bill, he stayed away from alcohol. At that time however, nobody studied whether the dialogs had any effect on the other addicts.

One day, during a business trip, a deal fell through and Bill was so depressed that he craved for a drink. To overcome the craving, his only hope was to talk to an addict. He knew that addicts sometimes went for confession. So he called the priest in the local church. Through the priest Bill got the address of Bob Smith, a surgeon living in that town. Bob was known more for being an alcoholic than a doctor. The meeting between Bill and Bob was the first ever meeting of A.A. After the meeting, Bob gave up drinking. For 15 years until his death, he remained sober. Bill wrote - "I knew that I needed this alcoholic as he needed me. This was it." Thus was born this self-help group whose philosophy is to help others by helping yourself first.

What is the role of family members?

Role of family members/caregivers in helping the addict is very crucial.

  • They need to accept that the addict is ill, and should accompany him for treatment like any other patient
  • They need to play a remedial role as prescribed by the counsellor
  • Changing their thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns is necessary
  • It is important to play a vigilant role in case the patient slips back to addiction
  • The family should try and lead a normal life within the circumstances

What is sobriety?

Sobriety is not merely abstinence from the substance but a qualitative change in attitude regarding self, others and the world. It also includes a sense of self-development and effort towards active reinstatement of self in the social mainstream.

Can an addict lead a normal life?

Yes, and he can even progress and help other addicts during their treatment and recovery. He can restart his education, career plans, family reunification etc. He should however always completely abstain from all addictive, dependency-producing substances as there is a danger of relapse of some abuse or shift to a new abuse.

What others say of addiction?

  1. Addiction is a conditional response
    - Behavioural psychologist
  2. Addiction results from learned behaviour
    - Cognitive psychologist
  3. Addiction results from dysfunctional family
    - Social psychologist
  4. Addiction is a permanent, progressive, cunning, baffling and powerful disease, marked by mental obsession and physical craving
    - AA / NA member
  5. Addiction is either substance abuse or substance dependency
    - As classified in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV
  6. Addiction is a biological disease
    - A Research Psychiatrist
  7. Addiction is a neurotic self-destructive behaviour resulting due to Low Frustration Tolerance (LFT) or themes such as - addiction equals worthlessness, addiction as a coping mechanism, addiction as a result of demand for excitement etc.
    - REBT Therapist
  8. Addiction is generally applied co-habits that are not needed for life and also are hazardous to health
    - Mental Health Terms Glossary by Mark Dombeck, PhD
  9. Addiction is best understood as an individual's adjustment, albeit a self-defeating one, to his or her environment. It represents a habitual style of coping, albeit one that the individual is capable of modifying with changing emotional and life circumstances
    - Stanton Peel
  10. Addiction is a feeling of "I shall continue it as long as I can" despite having devastating effects on oneself or others
    - Arnot Oregon Medical center
  11. Although there are many kinds of addictions, no matter what the addiction is, every addict engages in a relationship with an object or event in order to produce a desired mood change
    - Mr. Craig Nakken, author of "Addictive Personality"
  12. Maladaptive genes that produce and maintain the craving for the addictive substance(s) and as a result, alter the metabolism in "reward" centers within the central nervous system
    - The Biogenic Model
  13. Drug dependence is a state, psychic and sometimes also physical, resulting from taking a drug, characterised by behavioural and other responses that always include a compulsion to take a drug on a continuous or periodic basis in order to experience its psychic effects, and sometimes to avoid the discomfort of its absence. Tolerance may or may not be present. A person may be dependent on more than one drug
    - WHO ICD 1990 (p. 1131)
  14. Addiction is maladaptive pattern of spirituality
    - Religious Leaders
  15. Addiction is anaesthesia
    - Daniel Laguitton

During the sharing at AA, it is often heard that there are 16000 reasons for drinking. Similarly, there are different and divergent definitions of addiction. At least fifteen of such views are given above. We at Muktangan are not interested in defining the term Addiction. However, for the purposes of treating addiction we follow a simple elaborate statement so that the goal of treatment can be achieved.

How Muktangan looks at addiction?

Muktangan, since its inception, has preferred to be a "treatment" center. All our activities are focussed upon helping addicts and their family members to live a happy, healthy and productive life. It is a known fact that Muktangan staff mainly consists of recovered addicts along with professional psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. The professionals working with us are essentially involved in medical & psychiatric management of the patients and updating the knowledge base of our staff. Muktangan neither claims nor is in a position to present a clinical definition of addiction.

Muktangan has treated almost a thousand of patients every year since inception. Our patients have enlightened us about the experience of addiction. Based on what we have gathered from our friends we look at addiction as:
"Substance addiction is a self-destructive behaviour marked by physiological dependence & tolerance, followed by medical complications with emotional consequences, interpersonal problems, and adversely affecting individual's capacity to work and live a social life."

We would also like to add that addiction might be caused by any reason whatsoever. Addiction may be the result of a particular event or a series of activating events, or an individual might be genetically, socially, culturally or for any other reasons be trapped in the addiction for which he may or may not be exclusively responsible. However, he owns the responsibility of choosing the narcotic substance as a coping mechanism, he is responsible for the acts committed during his addiction and more importantly he has to take the sole responsibility of sober living.