The Keys to Success for Small Business

The keys to success for small business.  Now there’s a topic!  I have been studying this field and experimenting with businesses of my own for over thirty years now, and have had many successes and many failures.  I think that starting a small business has never been as easy as it is today, with social media, the internet, ease of supply from overseas, ease of hiring, an improved economy, people more willing to buy, and all of those factors and aspects.  Today, small businesses are some of the most workable and well put together career options that people have, and I am all about people starting as many small businesses as possible, and I am all about people being as successful as possible with small businesses.

I can understand that starting and handling a small business can be a tough, concerning task, especially since there are many unknowns and equally as many risks involved.  The effort is totally worth it, as people who start and succeed in a small business are almost always happy that they did.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that there are risks, unknowns, concerns, worries, and other factors that all one and the same can create a good level of doubt and misgivings on the parts of those who engage in such activities.  It is my hope and sincerest wish that people are able to overcome these concerns and these worries and effectively do something about them so that they can start the small business of their dreams.

Small Business Ideas

Small business ideas are widespread and there are almost as many of them out there as there are people who have the ideas in the first place.  Small business success is dependent upon a lot more than just small business ideas though.  A successful small business is more so built off of the idea and the focus of hard work, an idea that is true to you and something that you really want to pursue, and the incessant ability to follow up and follow through.  Listed below are some of the key point that I have found to building a successful small business in the new business arena of the 21st century:

  • Commit 110% to your idea. When all of the cards are on the table, I have seen that it does not matter so much about how committed or not committed you are to your idea as much as it matters how focused and dedicated you are about that idea.  Really and truthfully, if you are totally focused and intent on success and on winning the game in your chosen career area, you will be able to succeed, but only if you really try at it and if you really commit yourself to it.
  • Work really, really hard. I cannot stress this point enough.  People who work hard succeed!  People who do not simply will not succeed.  When you work hard in your chosen field or area, you can find success and stability like you never could have imagined.  Just that aspect of working really, really hard is laudable and successful in its own way.
  • Study and educate yourself to an infinite level of knowingness in your given field. Another thing I can swear by is going the distance and really studying the area or space that you are in. The more you know about it, the more you will be able to have a business that surrounds around it!

I say take these tips and run with them.  Do the best that you can do, really work hard at your project, and you will be successful and better for it with your small business.

Why Employers Should Approach Addicts with Concern, Not Threats

Having suffered from drug and alcohol addiction myself once, and being a successful business owner and entrepreneur, I have a lot of experience with work and with addiction, and with the prospect of hiring somebody who is addicted to drugs and alcohol or finding out that somebody who I hired is addicted to drugs and alcohol.

I feel very strongly about how you should proceed when you do find out that someone you have working for you is abusing drugs and alcohol.  The statistics about addiction are grim today, so it’s very likely that any business with more than ten or twenty employees has an addict within it.  It’s really important that you do not use threats though, or anger, antagonism, rage, or any kind of verbal abuse. Those types of tactics do not work on drug and alcohol addicted individuals, no matter what the old treatment methodologies say. Rather, I would have you use a more proactive approach.

How to Respond When You Find Out an Employee has an Addiction

I am a proponent of any tactic that will improve employee motivation.  When you find out an employee of yours is an addict, here is a step-by-step, quick insight as to how to handle an employee who is addicted to drugs and alcohol:

  • Basically, the first step is to actually do nothing. For a day or two, you need to verify your source. How did you find out that the individual is a drug addict, and how reliable is the source? Verify beyond any reasonable doubt that your employee is actually a substance abuser before you do anything else.
  • Do some research. You don’t want to go in guns blazing with an employee who is addicted to drugs and alcohol if you don’t know anything about addiction yourself. If this is the case, then it would be up to you to do your research and learn a little bit about substance abuse.
  • Compose yourself. It might be a good idea to talk to somebody who you know who is in recovery, and get some help from some other individuals on how you are going to confront your employee.
  • Make a plan for what you are going to do with your employee. Don’t just wing it.
  • Make the decision that you are going to let your employee stay on, as long as they enter into an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center first. You do not need to terminate somebody, simply because they are abusing drugs and alcohol. That won’t change anything for them, and then you will have to replace them too.
  • Confront the employee, and be as kind, compassionate, and caring as possible. Tell them what you expect of them, make it clear that you want them to go to a rehabilitation center, and promise them that they will have a job waiting for them afterward if they do. Nine times out of 10, most employees will comply.

This is a win-win situation for everybody. When you go about it this way, people have a lot of success, and most employees actually do end up going to treatment as a result. If you fire them or get angry with them, it will just make things worse. Follow the step-by-step procedure should this happen to you, and I wish you the best of luck.

I am very involved in the addiction rehabilitation field. My hope is to see, within my lifetime, a nation where we do not have to worry about drug and alcohol addiction within our businesses. I really hope this happens. By following the precepts of this article, you’ll actually be contributing to a drug-free nation. It is without a doubt a worthy goal to strive for.

How to Find Balance Between Managing, Leading, & Doing as an Entrepreneur

The work life balance of the 21st-century entrepreneur, leader, business owner, CEO, corporate executive, manager, or foreman can sometimes be quite difficult.  When you are in charge of running an area, a department, or an entire business, creating the balance between management, leadership, your personal life, and all the other aspects of your life can be quite difficult.  With all of the competition and the rush-rush of the 21st century, balance has taken a pretty tough hit.  In today’s day and age, especially with the internet and how easy it is to get in front of customers, it is the fastest acting business with the best product that can be sold the quickest that tends to be successful.  But what does this mean for executives?  The balance of their life suffers greatly now, generally speaking.

What this all means is that times are changing and competition for voice and dominance in the marketplace has never been as strong as it is now.  What this has created is a lifestyle for executives and leaders where they work far harder than they ever worked before.  It has put more responsibility on their shoulders and has caused them to suffer in other areas of their life.  How does one approach handling this, so that one can have everything that one wants and one does not have to sacrifice anything?

Tips for Creating Balance in the Life of Today’s Executive

There are a few ways that busy people can organize their lives better so that it does not seem quite so consuming and overwhelming. Some of these are:

  • Take time out of the equation.  What this means is do not focus so much on how many hours you work in a day, rather focus on how much you can get done in those hours.  Work fast, not hard.  Work smart, not hard.  When you are at work, you need to be completely and entirely focused on work.  Don’t be going on Facebook, your phone, or other forms of social media.  Totally dedicate yourself to your work, when you are at work, and you will benefit from that.
  • When you are at home, with your family, with your friends, at the gym, or engaging in a hobby, totally commit yourself to that experience, in that moment.  A lot of executives and leaders complain that they do not get enough time to themselves with their family, because they never really stopped working, and then time with their family or hobbies does not really seem like time well spent.  If you were to only really dedicate yourself to those time slots you have with your family and hobbies, then you would really feel like you were getting something out of it.  When you are not at work, do not work.
  • Spend what free time you do have doing more constructive and positive things.  Rather than watching two hours of TV a day, hit the gym for an hour a day, and work an extra hour.  Fill your schedule with positive, healthy, active activities that will refuel your mind and re-energize you, and which will make you more capable of delivering at 110% when you are at work.
  • Always engage in self-improvement.  Always be investing in yourself.  Take a course, read a book that specializes in your field, study the competition, improve your skills for your position.  One of the best ways to be able to balance your life better is to simply become better at what you do, so what you do doesn’t seem so hard.  Invest in yourself, and your life will be easier as a result.

These are just a few tips to get you started. There are a lot of other ways to get an advantage in the marketplace. Follow these, and you will be able to balance things better as a leader, executive, business owner, or entrepreneur.

Recovering Addicts: How to Limit Pessimism During Your Job Hunt

All of us have at one point or another felt the effects of having to go out and hunt for a job.  But only a few of us are in recovery and having to experience that same thing.  For those of us in recovery, going into the marketplace and hunting for a job can be an altogether more difficult thing than for those of us who have never struggled with addiction before.  For those of us who actually do need a job but have a history of addiction, sometimes getting that job can be a very difficult prospect.

Drug and alcohol addiction robs us of so much.  What we often forget though is that drug and alcohol addiction continues to rob us of so much even after we have beaten addiction and come out on the other side winning and successful.  What we do not always realize is that drug and alcohol addiction tends to have a lasting effect on us that seems to carry on long after we have stopped using drugs and alcohol.  From my own personal experience and from seeing it in thousands of fellow recovered addicts, drug and alcohol addiction leaves permanent scars.

How Past Addiction Affects Our Present Day Job Hunt

If you have suffered from addiction before, you are probably very familiar with the general feelings and sensations that come about from trying to get through life suffering and struggling with the stigma of addiction and substance abuse in general.  You have probably experienced this for yourself in more ways than one.

When it comes to a job hunt, all a prospective employer has to hear is that you were once an addict and boom, an instant mark against you.  From my perspective, I believe that this ultimately ends up disqualifying about fifty percent of persons in recovery who try to enter back into the workforce.

On the one hand, you can’t really blame employers for being skeptical.  They want what is in their best interests for their company, and if they don’t want to take the risk of hiring an ex-addict, that is on them.  And that is totally fine.  Rather than incriminating or railing against employers and feeling sorry for yourself about how hard it is to get a job once in recovery, I would instead encourage you to try to find strength and resilience in your recovery.  I would instead encourage you to work hard, to make it go right, and to push yourself to be the best that you can be in every way that you can.

Use pessimism as a fuel to the fire that is your need for a job.  Consider the, “It can’t get much worse than this,” principle.  Understand that, if you’ve been turned down because of your history of addiction, that that is simply the way it is and that that sort of thing is going to happen.

Use the pessimism to foster an understanding that all of this is simply a numbers game.  Use your experience with missing job opportunities to understand that it is only a matter of time before a job prospect comes through and you have a chance at a really good job.

What I want you to do is I want you to keep trying.  Remember that every “No” means that you are just one step closer to a “Yes.”  Keep this in mind and just keep at it!  Work on yourself, your pitch, your resume, your appearance, and just keep showing up for job interviews and you will eventually close the deal on a job where your new employer couldn’t care less that you were once an addict.

Should Addicts be Eligible for Disability Benefits

This is a question that has come up time and time again for dispute, and one that not everyone really altogether understands either.  Should drug and alcohol addicts be eligible for disability benefits?  The following paragraph was quoted from a legal attorney’s blog on the subject, and it gives the real data on what exactly does or does not constitute as a disability:

  • “Although drug addiction often substantially impairs a person’s ability to work, an applicant will not be approved for disability on the basis of the drug addiction alone. Even though the effects of substance abuse may prevent an individual from maintaining regular employment, Social Security does not consider substance abuse to be disabling until it causes other irreversible medical conditions. However, this does not mean that you cannot win approval for a physical or mental condition that was caused by a drug addiction. The Social Security Administration (SSA) begins all reviews of claims for disability in the same manner, regardless of the alleged impairment or its cause.”

So, that is the way it is right now.  But should it be that way?  Should addicts be eligible for disability benefits following under the above situations if they are abusing drugs and alcohol?  What is the moral and ethical route to be taken here?

Why Drug and Alcohol Addicts Should NOT be Eligible for Disability Benefits

If a person were to approach you on the street and ask you for money, what would you say?  I would ask the person, “What do you need the money for?”  If the person were to say, “I need money to go buy drugs and alcohol,” would you give them money?  I highly doubt it.  So if that’s how you feel about giving an addict cash money for them to then go buy drugs with, then you should not approve of addicts being able to get any kind of disability benefits, and here’s why:

  • Giving addicts money through disability enables them.  It allows them to continue to have cash on hand to go buy drugs and alcohol and allows them to continue pursuing their addictions.
  • Allowing drug and alcohol addicts to collect disability pushed them further away from them hitting rock bottom, which they need to do if they’re ever going to stop abusing drugs and alcohol.  It gives them a steady stream and cash flow that they can continue to use to buy drugs and alcohol.  It allows them to stay comfortable and relaxed about their substance abuse.  They never run out of money, and they never hit rock bottom.
  • Disability payment to drug addicts is a social program, and with eighty-million Americans on some form of social program and seventeen-trillion dollars in debt, can we as a nation really afford to pay people to abuse drugs and alcohol?  Because that is what we are doing.

An Alternative to Giving Drug Addicts Disability Money

Here’s a better idea.  Completely deny addicts disability pay.  Even if they have a medical condition that they got because of abusing drugs and alcohol.  In fact, if a person has any current connection to drug and alcohol abuse or addiction, just completely disbar them from any kind of disability or government cash flow program.  Then, take that cash that would be enabling addicts to buy drugs and alcohol and instead flow it into creating government-funded, low cost or free addiction treatment programs.  With no money and no cash flow from the Fed, addicts will be looking to alternatives, and when they start feeling withdrawal effects a rehab will suddenly look like a very appealing option.  This option is excellent too because it really handles the problem at its root source.

Tips for Using Rehab Lessons to Overcome Workplace Obstacles

Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, no matter how far into the past it is, can still leave a very grim and in fact devastating effect on those who are affected by it.  Addiction is a serious issue and a huge crisis, to say the least, one of which that needs to be addressed and addressed soon too before the issue just gets worse and worse.  Once it does get addressed, and once one does go to rehab, it still needs to be addressed even after that!

However, what a lot of people do not realize is that they can actually to a degree draw strength and resilience from their recoveries, and in a lot of ways they can be better off for having achieved recovery.  A lot of people are actually able to produce better and do better in life because they used to struggle with addiction and now they do not.  They are able to find success and to find a degree of solace and peace of mind, often because they did struggle with addiction and are now forced to move on.

Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, is a hardship and a crisis, to say the least, and it has been an ongoing one for some time now.  Now more than ever it is important that those who are addicted get clean and find some degree of sobriety and recovery before it is too late.  Next up, such individuals need to do whatever they need to do to maintain that sobriety, often through getting a job.

How to Use Lessons Learned in Rehab to be Successful at Work

One tends to learn a lot at rehab.  Some of the lessons can be applied to one’s workplace too.  For example:

  • Use the intensive ability to commit to something that you learned in rehab to be successful in your business life.  If there is one thing that recovering addicts are very good at doing is committing.  They are able to say no to drugs and alcohol after they get out of rehab, so they should be able to say yes to career opportunities.
  • Use your respect for the unknown to be able to easily and simply be able to keep your eye out, and keep your ear low to the ground.  Succeeding in the business world has its risks, just like trying to beat addiction.  It all has its own basic risks.
  • Use your ability to network and seek help from others when times get tough in the job force.  You probably have a support network for helping you to maintain your recovery right?  Use this and use it well to get what you want out of work too.
  • Use your ability to help others that you learned in rehab to also give you the ability to help those who need it most in your workplace.  You will do better with it and you will feel better in the long run too.
  • Use your new work ethic and your new ability to work immensely hard that you probably got from going to rehab to essentially double and then triple your productivity at work, and allow you to achieve your dreams in the workplace.

All in all, living through work and recovery both is not always easy.  But the truth of matter is that a job can and often does make the other areas of life a whole heck of a lot easier.  Also, having a job really does promote recovery and sobriety so one is able to stay clean and sober and have a job too.

Can You Merge Recovery Goals with Business Goals

Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, is certainly a worrisome crisis issue and problem, to say the least.  This is without a doubt the single most worrisome and problematic crisis issue that the nation struggles with when it comes to health-related problems and concerns.  Drug and alcohol addiction has wreaked havoc on our country ever since day one, but ever since the turn of the century, the problem has been a lot more massive and a lot more concerning than it usually is.  The issues and crisis is a worry, to say the least, and has been an ongoing one.  If we all don’t come together and do something about the problem then it will surely only get worse long before it gets any better.

Though substance abuse is a serious crisis issue, to say the least, it is equally difficult for people when they have actually beaten their addictions.  Most people think that it is the times leading up to rehabilitation that is the hardest. I know for a fact that that is not necessarily true.  In fact, I am of the opinion that life after rehab is just as hard for a recovering addict as life before rehab was, at least for the first few years. Granted, it is a different kind of difficulty, but it is a tough time, to say the least.

When people come out of drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centers, they are suddenly faced with the task of actually staying sober and staying away from drugs and alcohol.  Not an easy thing to do by any means at all.  Of course, those who have gone to rehab may say, “But the guy just went to rehab. Shouldn’t he be able to stay away from drugs and alcohol thanks to everything he learned in rehab?”

There is some truth to this. Sure, a thirty-day or a sixty-day or even a ninety-day rehab will help a person quite bit in addressing their underlying issue and focusing on their different crisis problems. It will give them the ability to stop using drugs and alcohol at the very least while he or she is in rehab. However, a rehab center only scrapes the tip of the iceberg.

A rehab center is just the beginning. Look at it this way. How on earth can you expect a man (or a woman) who has been abusing drugs and alcohol for several years to suddenly be 100% cured after just a few weeks at a rehab center? Not only is it impossible, but it is actually laughable. No, it will take much more than that.

Why Business Goals Can Help in Recovery

When one beats addiction, one must absolutely immerse themselves into their business goals and into their other areas of life.  As I said it once before:

“Full immersions and dedication and 100% effort into a business or career will provide the fuel to the flames that will keep the cold snap of relapse from ever coming too close.”

I know from personal experience and from seeing it in hundreds of other recovering addicts that the key to a continuing recovery and the key to never turning back to drugs and alcohol was and is to completely dive into a business or career or new plan of some kind and go hell bent for weather after it.  This to me is one of the best if not the best ways to stay sober from drug and alcohol addiction once and for all and for good.

The key is to have goals. Business goals and recovery goals can align. A recovery goal that most recovering individuals set is to find success in some area, whether it is a business idea, a hobby, a passion, a good cause, or some personal plan or aspiration.  Engaging in absolute intensity in those goals is what promotes recovery and abstinence from drug and alcohol addiction. I cannot stress this enough.

To all who complete my rehabilitation programs at my recovery centers, I tell them to not rest on their laurels. I tell them to get out there and succeed!

Sobriety and Motherhood: Is it Alleviating or Attributing to Stress

Few have it as hard as mothers who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.  To add to it, a lot of people think that after a mother, or after anyone for that matter goes to rehab and completes it that life simply becomes easy and simple.  It does not.  Life after rehab is often just as hard as life before rehab.  True, one is no longer abusing drugs and alcohol, but now one has to deal with a lot of other problems and concerns that were not once there.  Mainly, one has to keep from abusing drugs and alcohol.  One has to keep from relapsing.  One has to keep from going back to his or her old habits and problem areas.

The threat of a relapse is one of those ever-present problem areas that a recovering addict is always faced with.  It’s just always there.  It’s an ongoing and every present problem that those who are going through recovery are always thinking with and that those who are going through recovery will probably always have to be thinking with for the rest of their lives.  There’s nothing wrong with that unless they fall prey and do relapse.

Drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, is not a temporary affliction or a disease that comes and goes.  I do not believe in the, “Once an addict always an addict,” pessimistic nonsense, but I do believe that once one has become an addict, one can beat addiction permanently, but one always has to be cautious to a degree.  One always has to be mindful and watchful to ensure that a relapse does not occur.

Life After Rehab for The Average Mother

Mothers are some of the most difficult individuals to convince to go to rehab for their addictions in the first place.  “Oh, I just can’t leave my children for the time it would take to go to rehab.”  Honestly, though, how great of a mom is she being when she’s doing drugs on the side or abusing alcohol?  This is the point that needs to be gotten across to them, and most mothers eventually do get the idea.

Once they have completed rehab, mothers step back into their lives and begin taking care of their children.  What next?  Will life be easier or more difficult?  What of the future and what types of benefits or pitfalls that it holds?  Where is the future headed?

Mothers have it pretty hard in those first few months or even the first year after they beat addiction because a lot is expected of them and they often never really have the chance to, “ease back into it.”  For mothers, they need to be especially diligent to avoid a relapse.

Here is my advice to mothers to ensure that they don’t fall back on their old habits:

  • Make sure to make time for your recovery.  Absolutely start going to an aftercare program after you have completed rehab.  You need a place to go to be away from your children for a few hours every week where you can continue to work on your recovery.  An aftercare facility is just such a place, and your rehab center you went to for treatment should be able to help you find one.
  • Focus on your goals too.  Remember all those goals you made while you were in rehab?  Stick to them, follow them, and keep up with them.  Don’t let your goals be forgotten just because you have a lot of responsibilities to keep up with now as a mother.
  • Let your family be a reason to stay sober, not a reason to relapse.  Ensure that your family is not stressing you out, and if they are then they need to know it.  Make your family a bastion of safety and security that causes you to maintain your sobriety and your recovery.  Don’t let your family be something that causes you to relapse.

Mothers have it hard yes, but they can make it just like the rest of us.  The path to sobriety is available to us all.

Acceptance vs. Approval: How They Can Affect an Addict in Recovery

Drug and alcohol addiction has long-lasting consequences in a person that pushes and pushes and brings about loss after loss in a person to the point of that person necessitating help and assistance from others.  Substance abuse has the proclivity to create dangerous and in fact disastrous conditions in people.  Even after one achieves sobriety there is absolutely no guarantee of a lifetime of peaches and cream and easy streets.

Having suffered from addiction myself decades ago, I speak from first-hand experiences in this area.  My own substance abuse crisis nearly took me over, with problem after problem after problem rising up and creating, in fact, devastating issues for me.  Though I beat addiction, I have seen others who haven’t.  I have seen people who had years and years of sobriety crash and burn and suffer immensely.  It often does not take much.  The position of recovery is often not a stable one, and I feel the need to caution those in recovery who would seek out a life of danger and risk to stay your hand in your decisions and build your strength and your resilience before you take such risks.

One thing I have noticed is that one’s position in life and one’s relationships with others can absolutely make all of the difference when confronting the crisis that is drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse in general.  Perhaps one of the greatest factors in whether or not a person will make it in their life of recovery is whether or not he or she seeks out acceptance from people or approval.

Which Course of Action Should a Recovered Addict Take?

I have seen all too often recovering addicts trying their hardest to gain approval from others around them.  The problem is, when recovering addicts live in this way, they encourage the growth and the continuance of the stereotype of, “Recovering Addict.”  That is not a pleasant stereotype by any means at all.  I have seen recovering addicts beg and plead for the approval of their peers and seniors to the point of sheer propitiation.  It is not a fun thing to watch.  I have seen recovering addicts go so low in this quest for approval that they relapsed.

But why did they relapse?  An interesting thing occurs when someone degrades themselves to the level of needing approval from others.  In doing so one instantly degrades their own personal value.  In doing so, one automatically forfeits one’s own confidence in oneself.  In doing so, one automatically experiences the feelings of degradation and depravity that someone who abuses drugs and alcohol often feels.  This is by no means a safe or comfortable condition to be in.  In fact, it brings about relapse.

Because a person who is seeking the approval of others has a very low opinion of themselves, such a person will also have a tendency to be more at risk for relapse than someone who does not seek that approval.  Because of this, a deep-rooted desire to seek approval is actually a lot more dangerous than most people think it to be.

Better yet to strive to seek acceptance from people.  Acceptance means to simply get the people in your life to accept that you used to be a drug addict or an alcoholic, and then to move on.  Acceptance means getting those who you care about to not turn a blind eye to your past but to also not set expectations for you that are not real to you.  Acceptance is not an unachievable conquest, but it is still a challenge of sorts.

I urge you to strive for acceptance, not approval.  Once you cross a certain line and begin to desire and need the approval of others, you break into a realm that can itself bring about a relapse.  Steer clear from this mindset, and instead, work to achieve the acceptance of those whom you care about.

Why Some People Become Addicted and Others Don’t

In 2011, 22.5 million people in the U.S. admitted to abusing drugs, and many of those people become addicted eventually. In today’s day and age of rampant drug use, no person, family, neighborhood, or community is safe from the deadly grip of drug addiction.

Many people struggle to understand how or why people succumb to drug addiction. Most people mistakenly presume that those addicted to drugs lack willpower and moral principles, or that they can stop abusing drugs by simply making a conscious choice to change their behavior. The realities of drug addiction are far more complex. Drug addiction is a disease, and a person needs much more than strong will power in order to stop using drugs. Thanks to scientific advances, we now understand how drugs affect the brain, and that treatment can help people put their drug addictions behind them, allowing them to lead healthy and productive lives.

The Cost of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction has severe negative consequences for individuals and society as a whole. In fact, the total cost related to drug abuse and addiction exceeds $600 billion in the United States each and every year. This staggering figure includes:

  • $428 billion for alcohol and tobacco
  • $193 billion for illegal drugs

These numbers may be overwhelming, but they do not accurately portray the breadth of destruction and the safety implications associated with drug addiction. Every year, jobs are lost, families are torn apart, and abuse takes place at the hands of addiction.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction forces people to compulsively seek out and use drugs, despite the severe consequences that are often experienced by those that are addicted and their families. Although most people voluntarily make the initial decision to use drugs, the changes in the brain that occur over time diminish the self-control of an addicted individual, making it difficult for them to resist the desire to take drugs.

Drugs contain harmful chemicals that affect the brain’s communication system and alter the way nerve cells typically process information. Scientists have discovered that there are two ways that this occurs: by over-stimulating the brain’s pleasurable “reward circuit” and by imitating the chemical messengers found naturally in the brain.

As a person’s drug abuse continues, their brain begins to adapt to the extreme dopamine surges it has become used to by producing less or reducing the amount of dopamine receptors. This results in a lessened impact of dopamine on the brain’s reward circuit, which lowers the person’s ability to enjoy the drugs and other things in life they once found pleasurable. This reduced level of dopamine makes an addicted individual feel the need to keep using drugs in order to restore their dopamine levels back to normal. Unfortunately, by now, larger and larger amounts of drugs are needed to achieve the same “high”.

Everyone Reacts Differently to the Drugs

There is no single variable that can determine whether or not a person will become addicted to drugs. However, the more risk factors that are present in a person’s life, the more likely they are to begin abusing drugs. The following risk factors play a prominent role in determining drug abuse and addiction:

  • Individual Biology – When combined with certain environmental influences, the genes that a person is born with account for nearly half of their vulnerability to addiction. A person’s ethnicity and gender as well as the presence of any mental disorders may also influence their risk of drug addiction.
  • Personal Development – The important developmental stages of a person’s life can affect their vulnerability to addiction as well. Drug abuse can lead to addiction at 21any age, but the earlier a person begins abusing drugs, the more likely it is that their drug abuse will transform into addiction. This is especially challenging for adolescents, because the parts of their brain that control judgment, decision making, and self-control are not yet fully developed. Adolescents are also more prone to experimenting with drugs and engaging in other risky behaviors.
  • Social Environment – From friends and family to quality of life and economic status, a person’s environment can also seriously influence their addictive behaviors and be a major factor in causing their drug addiction.

Thankfully, there are treatments available that can help people overcome their drug addictions and the disruptive effects that drugs have on their lives. Studies have shown that specialized behavioral therapy can help the majority of patients counter their addictions. Inpatient treatment programs are specifically tailored to each patient’s pattern of drug abuse, providing them with the specialized care they need to experience a sustained recovery and a drug-free life.  If you or a loved one has become addicted to a drug or to alcohol, take steps today to begin treatment and return to living a fulfilled lifestyle.