Does Addiction Last A Lifetime?

How long does it take a person to overcome their addiction? Does addiction last a lifetime? Find out today in our featured article.

Addiction is an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior, causing psychological and physical harm. According to the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI):

The term addiction does not only refer to dependence on substances such as heroin or cocaine. Some addictions also involve an inability to stop partaking in activities such as gambling, eating, or working. In addition, addiction is a chronic condition that can also result from taking medications such as opioids which has been found to have caused nearly 50,000 deaths Source in the United States in 2019 alone.

Addiction has been defined as a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Many people, but not all, start using a drug or first engage in an activity voluntarily. However, addiction can take over and reduce self-control.

Does Addiction Last A Lifetime?

It’s Not All an Addiction

People who have a substance abuse problem that they can’t control are different than those who misuse it for a night or two. For example, a person who drinks alcohol heavily on a night out may experience both the euphoric and harmful effects of the substance. However, this does not qualify as an addiction until the person experiences chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting brain changes.

It is also important to note that addiction doesn’t have to be a particular substance. You can be addicted to a thing or an activity. There is substance addiction and non-substance addiction. Some examples of non-substance addiction include:

  • gambling
  • food
  • internet
  • gaming
  • cell phone
  • sex

Someone with an addiction will continue to misuse the substance or activity despite the harmful effects it has.

How Long Does an Addiction Last?

There are a couple of different opinions about whether addiction lasts a lifetime or you grow out of it, and it depends on the person and their journey and the way they deal with life.

People who abuse substances usually use them to gain a “reward,” a “break” from reality, and that reality may be a stressful situation or reward themselves for getting through the week or a birthday of friends. However, there are many reasons why people abuse drugs, and there are many ways to get sober and stay sober.

Well, the answer isn’t a straightforward one, whether addiction lasts forever. It all depends on the model of recovery that you follow. For instance, if you are a traditionalist and believe addiction is life-long and that people who were once addicts can never get out of it, you could never touch a drink or drug again. This would be akin to playing with fire.

New Addictions Replace Old Ones?

Also, there is a belief that addictions can be substituted for others because addictions have a common pathway in the dopamine systems in our brains (the high reward feeling), so it’s only logical to say that the body may try to find a new pathway to fulfill these hungry sensations after the first one is cut short.

It may seem as if no one truly knows whether people truly recover from addiction and if they substitute their addictions, but it seems it can go two ways. Either you keep your addiction, even if it’s not drugs, by coping with other reward activities like video games or work. You could also grow and learn about what triggers you. You become aware of how you’re feeling and why and weaknesses and susceptibility become less and less over time. You eventually learn to live life, the good and the bad, without harming you or others anymore.

Start Addiction Treatment Program at On Call Treatment

On Call Treatment Center is an addiction treatment program located in the heart of Waltham, Massachusetts. Our carefully developed vision of quality clinical care includes Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient programs (IOP). Our medical, clinical and therapeutic team of experienced and compassionate professionals is available around-the-clock to treat all symptoms associated with addiction as well as the underlying causes. This addiction recovery experience is ideal for individuals ready for world-class drug or alcohol treatment who suffer from a substance use disorder.