According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, alcoholism is a form of drug addiction or dependency: the compulsive use of a drug to the point where the user has no choice but to continue using.

Using any drug trains the brain and body to want more, but the addictive nature of drugs depends on both substance and user. For example, alcohol typically takes longer to form an addiction than does heroin. Sometimes addiction develops after significant abuse, but if one is especially receptive to the substance of choice it can develop very quickly. Alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages 18–29.

Using any drug over time results in changes to the brain that outlast the use of the drug itself. Try to abstain, and the compulsion to return to the “safety” (familiarity) of addiction kicks in.

In other words, “Just say NO!” just doesn’t apply to addicts. Ask any doctor, lawyer, or peace officer.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive and, if continued, fatal disease. Like other illnesses, it’s a biological dysfunction with a predictable course and is affected by genetic, psychological, social, and environmental conditions. It’s characterized by a preoccupation with the drug of choice, distorted thinking, denial, and occasional relapses.

Long-term medical effects of alcohol and drug addiction include diseases of the heart, liver, pancreas, digestive tract and lungs; high blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies, internal bleeding, low resistance to infection, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, mental disorders, obesity and impotence.

People choose to use, but no sane person chooses chemical dependency. Alcoholics and addicts feel helpless, and so they continue using—despite the danger, expense, related illnesses, and eventual loss of income, loved ones, freedom, even life.

Like addiction, recovery occurs one step at a time. A commitment to ending the addiction, and the help of others, are both crucial to daily and long-term recovery.

For over 37 years, Freedom Ranch has been helping. We offer our residents an opportunity to renew their lives through close association with men who’ve experienced many years of recovery and a life of sobriety.