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What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a complex illness that causes you to compulsively seek and use a substance or engage in a behavior, even when it is harmful to your health and well-being.

It is usually classified as a brain disorder because there are changes in the brain that remain, even when you have stopped using the drug. Addiction typically causes changes in the parts of the brain that affect self-control, stress, and feelings of reward.

An addiction can be physical, psychological, or both. Psychological addiction is when you feel that you can’t cope with life without drugs. Physical addiction is where your body is dependent on drugs to function normally.

Both types of addiction are equally devastating and can be extremely dangerous if left untreated.

If you have an addiction, it can seem like recovery is an impossible goal. But with commitment and support, lifelong recovery is possible for anyone.

At Cirque Lodge, our individualized recovery programs combine behavioral therapies, experiential therapy, and support groups to offer you the most effective treatment experience.

Our luxury facilities, situated in the spectacular Rocky Mountains, are the perfect place to overcome your addiction, develop new self-management skills, and reconnect you with your love of life.

Our luxury facilities, situated in the spectacular Rocky Mountains, are the perfect place to overcome your addiction.

Types of Addiction

There are two main types of addiction:

  • Substance Addiction
  • Behavioral Addiction

Substance Addiction

Substance addiction is an addiction to mind-altering chemicals such as alcohol, opiates, and other prescription drugs. Most substance addiction involves psychoactive substances.

Psychoactive substances cause chemical changes in the brain that alter the way we feel, and these changes make you want to use the drug again.

They can also increase your tolerance to the drug, so you need to increase the amount you take to feel the same effect.

Over time, these changes cause you to take higher and higher doses of the drug, and ultimately, your body adjusts to the drug, and you experience withdrawal when you stop using them.


Behavioral Addiction

Currently, medical science only officially recognizes gambling as an addiction. Despite this, many psychologists and other healthcare professionals argue that we should recognize other behavioral addictions too. At present, most behavioral addictions are officially classified as ‘disorders.’

As is typical with other addictions, behavioral addiction causes feelings of anxiety, rejection, and shame. Behavioral addiction includes gambling addiction, sex addiction, and gaming addiction.

What’s the Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction?

Substance abuse is when you use an illegal drug or use a legal drug not as prescribed.

Taking illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, or taking prescription drugs at higher doses than prescribed or mixing them with another substance to enhance the effects is substance abuse. If you take prescription drugs to experience pleasurable feelings rather than for their medical benefits, this also constitutes substance abuse.

Overdose is always a risk of substance abuse. This is when you use more drugs or alcohol than your body can handle. It is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. Overdose was the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States in 2019.

Addiction is being unable to stop taking a substance despite knowing it’s harming you. Whatever your reasons for using drugs or alcohol, when you continue to abuse them or continually increase the quantities because your tolerance has increased, this can eventually become an addiction.

Once caught in the cycle of addiction, it’s tough to break the habit alone; however, it is possible. We’ve seen miraculous recoveries – and people with decades of addiction leave us filled with positivity and new hope for the future.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction?

The signs and symptoms of addiction can vary from person to person. Below are some of the signs and symptoms to look out for if you are worried that you or a loved one may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol:

  • Using substances more often and for longer periods.
  • Trying to hide behaviors and substances from friends and family members.
  • Experiencing sudden outbursts of anger or frequent feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • Engaging in risky behavior to acquire the substance of choice, sometimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Neglecting your obligations, relationships, financial concerns, and hobbies.
Preventative Measures
  • Distancing yourself from friends you think would disapprove of how you are using drugs or alcohol.
  • Hiding alcohol or drugs in the home or workplace.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the drug – these might include tremors, nausea, sweating, and irritability.
  • Having a genetic history of addiction and substance abuse.
  • A change in your physical appearance, such as weight loss or weight gain.
  • Needing to use larger and larger amounts of a substance to feel the same effects.
  • Using substances to cope with arguments, conflicts, or other difficult situations.

If you recognize any of these signs, contact us as soon as you can. Our compassionate and non-judgmental team will offer you advice and guide you through the next steps so you or your loved one can begin the path to recovery.

If you feel you are in need of help, contact us as soon as you can. Our compassionate and non-judgmental team will offer you advice and guide you through the next steps so you or your loved one can begin the path to recovery.

What Causes Addiction?

Several factors can contribute and make drug use and addiction more likely.


If someone in your close family has an addiction, you are more likely to develop an addiction. Research by  The National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests that genetics can play a large part in addiction.


Using drugs at a young age is a key predictor for developing an addiction later in life. At Cirque Lodge, we work with clients from the age of 18 upwards.

Difficulty Coping With Stress

If you are stressed, you may look to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape from everyday life. This may lead to dependence on the substance, followed by a physical or psychological addiction.

Other Disorders Such As Depression or Anxiety

Many people with addiction often have co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety. While using alcohol or drugs can seem like an escape from these conditions, it can make the symptoms worse in the long term.

What Are the Consequences of Addiction?

1. Serious Health Problems

Long-term substance abuse and substance abuse disorders cause serious health problems, and overdose can result in hospitalization or even death.

2. Performance at Work

The side effects of addiction may leave you tired and unmotivated, causing you to be late or absent from work and make it difficult to hold down a steady job. Long-term drug or alcohol abuse also affects your mental ability, and you may find it hard to concentrate and complete tasks effectively. If your job involves driving, a conviction can result in a loss of employment.

3. Damage to Relationships With Friends and Family Members

If you become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it often becomes the most important thing in your life. You may begin to isolate yourself from others and push away close friends and loved ones. 

4. Accidents and Injuries

All tasks that are undertaken while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will carry some risk. Cooking, for example, can result in serious burns and even fire. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol also has its own potential risks. While penalties for driving under the influence vary from state to state, most will result in a criminal record and jail time, even for a first offense, and worst case can result in severe injury or death.

5. Addiction Treatment

Recovery from addiction is usually in three stages:

  • Detoxification
  • Rehabilitation
  • Aftercare 

At Cirque Lodge, our treatment program offers you expert support through all three stages.

7. Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation takes you through identifying thought patterns and behaviors that cause your addiction and developing the skills to change and overcome them. At Cirque Lodge, our individualized treatment program combines individual and experiential therapy with support groups to offer you the most effective treatment experience possible. 

7. Medical detoxification

Medical detoxification is a safe and effective way to get off drugs. It can be done in conjunction with medical supervision, which helps keep withdrawal symptoms at bay while also providing you medications that will curb cravings or alleviate them altogether if necessary for your individual situation!

8. Continuing Care

After a rehabilitation program, continued support is crucial to help you maintain abstinence from drugs or alcohol as you continue your recovery journey and return to everyday life.

At Cirque Lodge, we provide you with a personalized aftercare plan to guide you towards this. We also connect you with local or online groups that you can attend to expand your support network.

Contact Us

If you or your loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please call us today at 1-800-582-0709.

Laundry facilities, detergent, iron and ironing board are provided at no additional cost.

If you smoke you must bring sealed and packaged cartons. We do not sell cigarettes and strongly encourage you to address this addiction while in treatment. Smoking Cessation is available as part of the program.

Contact Us

Cirque Lodge offers a combination of experiential, behavioral, and group therapies to provide a holistic and enriching treatment experience.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, please contact us today. We can help.