Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain.

Addiction is not a sign of flawed morals or weakness of character. It’s a chronic, complex brain disease. And it’s progressive, which means that without treatment, addiction will almost certainly get worse with time. Addiction damages a person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being. By hijacking key areas of the brain, addiction distorts perceptions and motives, resulting in destructive, compulsive behavior that is driven by an overpowering craving for the addictive substance that can seem as strong as the need for water or food. It’s no wonder that addiction destroys health, families, friendships, careers and lives.

While no single cause has been found, research shows that addiction is the result of multiple contributing factors, such as genetics, environment, mental health, trauma and even the developmental stage of the individual.

It’s a disease shrouded in denial, secrecy and shame.

Unlike other diseases, addiction still carries a stigma that is sustained by misinformation, condemnation and scorn. Those struggling with addiction often cling to denial, feeling isolated, misunderstood, and powerless against the disease, while their families carry a heavy, self-imposed burden of shame and maintaining secrecy.

It’s a family disease and it hurts everyone—especially the children.

Addiction damages relationships, destroys trust and causes suffering for everyone in the addicted person’s life, but for the children it can be especially devastating. For a child faced with the addictive behavior of a loved one, growing up is more about surviving than thriving. Instead of feeling safe, secure and loved, children feel powerless, fearful and betrayed. Without help, the consequences can last a lifetime.

For those struggling with addiction, receiving treatment is crucial—for their own recovery and for their children’s future. Research tells us that children of addicted parents are the highest risk group of children in terms of developing an addiction themselves. But the cycle can be broken. That’s why getting help is so important, for both the family and the individual.

If you’re struggling with addiction, you may feel alone. But you aren’t.

Addiction touches virtually every community in the country—including ours. In 2013, 22.7 million Americans throughout the U.S. were affected by drug and alcohol addiction. Only 11% of these people actually received needed treatment.1 The cost of addiction to our communities is high, but every donation, large or small, makes a real difference. Find out what you can do to help.

Recovery takes more than determination and good intentions.

We don’t have a cure for addiction. However, like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and other chronic diseases, we do know how to treat it. OAR can help you manage the disease of addiction and live with it successfully. Learn more about the specialized treatment and support that OAR provides for individuals and their families.