Addiction is not a topic that many of us understand fully, so it’s completely understandable that you may have questions. Whether you’re concerned about a loved one’s drug use or curious about treatment options for yourself, here are some of the most asked questions about addiction that we hear. 

What Are Substance Use Disorders? 

Substance use disorders is a wide term that describes a group of disorders that involve the use of drugs. These disorders are medically documented and are described using the type of drug that is being abused. For example, there is Opioid Use Disorder, Stimulant Use Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, and others. Each disorder can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. A clinician will diagnose a person with a substance use disorder using specific criteria laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (or DSM-V). 

Why Do Some People Get Addicted to Drugs? 

Drugs work in the brain to create pleasure chemicals. Most all substances that can be abused will flood the brain with dopamine, which is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that is responsible for feelings of pleasure, among other things. These high levels of dopamine produce feelings of euphoria. Because a drug user learns that using a drug gives them those highly pleasurable sensations, they are likely to continue using it to recreate that high. 

Why do some people get addicted to drugs

On top of the euphoric effects of drug use, there are also learned behaviors, habits, and physical dependencies that occur with regular use of drugs, all of which lead to addiction. 

While it may seem that some people are more susceptible to addiction that others, addiction is not a disease that discriminates. Any drug user can become addicted to drugs. 

Is Substance Abuse a Voluntary Behavior? 

You may be wondering if addiction is a disease or if it is a choice. Do people choose to become drug addicts? Or is there a biological reason for addiction? 

Yes, addiction is a disease

It is treated both medically and psychologically and can be cured (what we call “Remission” in the addiction therapy world) The only thing about addiction that is voluntary is the very first choice to start using. Nobody intends to become addicted to drugs. The drugs’ effects on the human mind and body keep the person trapped and stuck in a cycle of addiction. 

A drug user can voluntarily choose to seek treatment for addiction as well. That is the first step toward recovery and one of the best choices a person can make. 

How Many People Die From Drug Use? 

Unfortunately, there are many people who die from the effects of drug use every year. These deaths occur in people who have damaged their bodies from long-term use of drugs or alcohol and occur from overdoses of opiates and other substances. 

Overdose Deaths in the United States

The CDC reports that there were almost 70,630 unintentional overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2019.  This means that the users did not intend to lose their lives when they decided to use that day, but they did. Official numbers for recent years are not yet available, but it is thought that overdose deaths are increasing each year. 

Can Addiction Be Treated Successfully?

Yes. Addiction is a chronic, but treatable disease that can be managed successfully. Research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications, where available, is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches must be tailored to address each patient’s abuse patterns and related medical, psychiatric, and social problems.

Seeking the help of a trained professional or a professional treatment center is the best way to get treatment for your addiction. There are certain things that you should know about addiction treatment that will ensure the best possible outcome. 

  • Individuals need to be engaged in treatment for an adequate amount of time. There is no magic time limit for how long treatment will take, it depends on the individual. Some may have success in an outpatient program, but for sustained recovery, long term residential care is often the best approach. 
  • Recovery from addiction is a dynamic process that requires work in many life areas. Just as drugs have impacted many areas of a person’s life, so will addiction treatment. A person will need to decide to “stay sober” every day, one day at a time. Recovery is a long term effort, and may require multiple episodes of treatment. 
  • Addiction often occurs simultaneously with other physical and mental health problems. A treatment plan must take all of these things into account. 
  • Treatment programs work better when they are tailored to each person’s needs. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for addiction. No single type of treatment is appropriate for everyone. 

How Do I Know if I Am Addicted and Need Treatment? 

The best way to determine whether you are in fact addicted to drugs and alcohol is to speak to a drug addiction professional. They will be able to help you identify your personal concerns and determine what the best plan of action would be for you, specifically.  

Dual Diagnosis and Recovery

Reading online like you are right now is good. It means that you are interested in taking that first step, however the internet will not be able to properly diagnose and treat you. 

Where Should Drug Addicts Go for Help? 

If you’re struggling with addiction but not in any immediate danger, it’s time to consider your options for treatment. You can call Hawaii Island Recovery any time, 24/7 to speak to a kind and competent intake specialist and get started on your road to recovery. 

Call Hawaii Island Recovery 27/7

Speak to a kind and competent intake specialist and get started on your road to recovery.


In an emergency situation, such as a suspected overdose, call 911 right away for emergency help.