What is Addiction?


Difficult Question to Answer

Addiction is multifaceted and originates in a unique way for each individual that struggles with substance, process, or behavioral addiction. In other words, this question is not a simple one to answer.
For some, genetics and environment play a large role in the development of their addiction, but for others behavioral, mental health, and trauma-related issues are more significant contributing factors. To complicate things further, Addiction presents very differently depending on the substance being used or what behavior is compulsively being repeated.


The Answer from Science

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction 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.”
This definition provides hope for those that struggle with addictions and helps minimize the shame that promotes many compulsive behaviors. ASAM’s definition also challenges the idea that many in society hold that addiction is somehow a moral failing or a problem of willpower. It clearly states that addiction is a chronic treatable medical disease which eliminates these two nonsensical theories.
Today evidence-based treatment programs are available to treat these chronic conditions. If you or your loved one needs resources for any addiction, reach out to The Rubicon and we will assist you in finding the help you need.

outpatient treatment


What The Rubicon Treats

The word addiction has many negative connotations in society, so The Rubicon and the treatment community as a whole use that word less and less. The chronic medical disease (addiction) that The Rubicon treats is called a substance use disorder.
The Rubicon treats the following substance use disorders:
  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Cannabis Use Disorder
  • Stimulant Use Disorder
  • Sedative Use Disorder
  • Hallucinogen Use Disorder


Substance Use Disorder Defined

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines someone as having a Substance Use Disorder when “the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”


Criteria for Substance Use Disorders

When trying to determine if someone has a substance use disorder, clinicians at The Rubicon will use a number of different assessments. One of these assessments asks the elven Yes/No questions outlined below. They stem from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders version 5 (DSM-5) criteria or symptoms for substance use disorder.
  1. Have you taken the substance in larger amounts or for a longer period of time than intended?
  2. Have you been unable to cut down or stop using the substance when you wanted to?
  3. Have you spent a considerable amount of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the substance?
  4. Do you have cravings or urges to use the substance?
  5. Has the use of alcohol or other drugs negatively impacted your work, home, or school activities?
  6. Have you continued to use your substance of choice despite the use causing problems in your relationships?
  7. Have you given up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use?
  8. Have you used substances in physically hazardous ways?
  9. Have you continued to use, despite knowing you have a physical or psychological problem that is likely worsened by the substance use?
  10. Have you experienced an increase in tolerance? Or in other words, have you needed more and more of the substance you are using to get the effect you want?
  11. Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms or aware that you can take your substance of choice to avoid withdrawal symptoms?


Severity of Substance Use Disorders

The number of positive answers to the above questions will allow the clinician to determine how severe a substance use disorder is present.
  • Mild Substance Use disorder: 2 – 3 symptoms
  • Moderate Substance Use Disorder: 4 -5 symptoms
  • Severe Substance Use Disorder: 6 – or more symptoms


How to Get Help:

If you or someone you love has answered these questions and is concerned about their substance use, the team at The Rubicon can help. We will complete a full comprehensive assessment and determine treatment recommendations.
Contact The Rubicon:
Phone: 612-200-9870

Are you ready to cross your Rubicon?