Tully Hill®

What is Addiction?

September 24, 2018 - Blog

What Addiction is:

A primary, chronic, disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations, often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic impaired control over use, preoccupation with use, use despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking – most notably denial.


Addiction is a primary disease. 

Addiction is not a symptom of an underlying problem, such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, but a separate disease with its own course and complications. This doesn’t mean that resolving other issues is unimportant. The key is to get help for these issues while staying focused on recovery from addiction.

Addiction is a progressive disease. 

No matter what the addictive substance – all drugs activate the neurotransmitter dopamine deep in the reward center of the brain. Addiction persists and worsens over time. There is no “going back” to the first time. When a person keeps using addictive chemicals, their brain begins to need the drug more and they stop producing the natural chemicals that give a sense of well-being.

Addiction is a genetic disease.

Studies show differences in brain waves, sensitivity to alcohol, effects of alcohol on hormones all pointing to genetic differences in people who are addicted. Genetics has as much to do with addiction as it does in other chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. People whose parents or close relatives are addicted were probably born with a reduced supply of and ability to use brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin – natural chemicals that help you feel good.  The use of drugs/alcohol “make up” for this reduced supply of neurotransmitters.

Addiction is a chronic disease.

Chronic [Kron-ik] – Greek origin meaning “lasting forever”. Other chronic diseases: heart disease, diabetes, and emphysema. People in recovery need to consider each day how to live effectively as a recovering alcoholic or addict. In order to live alcohol and drug-free, they need to make physical, social, emotional, and spiritual lifestyle changes that support recovery.


Addiction is a fatal disease.

Toxic effects of constant alcohol use can cause death through medical complications such as liver disease and heart failure. Other addiction-related causes of death include stroke, heart attacks, respiratory arrest, car accidents, suicide, and drug overdoses. Addiction is often so powerful that it over-rides the natural instinct of survival; meaning the individual continues to use despite grave risks.



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