Understanding Drug Abuse: Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery
Drug abuse and addiction can be difficult to understand, especially if a loved one has been suffering. There are common misconceptions that surround drug abuse, making it a disease that is highly stigmatized. Through scientific research, more is known than ever before about the mental and physical effects this dangerous disease can pose. Drug addiction can have costly consequences, although suffering from addiction in no way makes someone a bad person. Even though the effects of addiction can affect all facets of a person’s life, treatment and recovery are always possible. There is always hope and there are multiple avenues for receiving the help someone suffering, deserves.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a complex and chronic brain disease. It is mostly characterized by uncontrollable impulses that leave to dangerous behavior. Despite harmful consequences or these dangerous situations, the compulsions are still acted upon. Drugs affect certain areas in the brain that affect mood, impulsivity, and self-control. As well as mental effects, drug addiction can also affect someone’s personal life. Strained relationships can often occur, as well as severe emotional strain.
Addiction can lead to someone losing their job or losing custody of their children. Someone suffering from addiction could feel alone and isolated due to the effects of addiction. How fast someone becomes addicted or the symptoms they experience vary from individual to individual. But, it has been discovered that genes could play up to 50 percent in the role of someone developing this chronic disease.
If you suspect someone you love is suffering from addiction, there are some signs and symptoms you can watch for:
- overwhelming thoughts of drug use
- Not meeting work or life responsibilities because of drug use
- Experiencing withdrawal when you cease drug use
- Keeping a supply of the drug
It is important to remember that if someone is suffering from addiction, it does not mean that they are a bad person. Addiction needs to be treated, just as heart disease does. If you or someone you know is suffering from this chronic illness, it is important to seek help as soon as possible to help limit effects and manage symptoms.
What Happens to Your Brain When You Use Drugs?
When someone takes drugs, it can cause disastrous consequences. Since addiction is a brain disease, it directly affects how your neurons send signals to your brain. This effect can sometimes lead to permanent damage in the reward pathway, affecting how someone perceives positive things. This is because drugs overstimulate the reward pathways in the brain. So, when drugs enter the body, the brain sends out positive signals that result in a euphoric feeling.
You would not be able to mimic this experience with anything else, besides the drug. This is what causes the brain to potentially rewire the pathway and what results in addiction. The person abusing drugs wants to experience that same surge of dopamine, causing them to potentially engage in less desirable behavior in order to achieve that feeling. Other areas of the brain can also become damaged. These areas include the parts of the brain responsible for judgment, decision making, memory, and control.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Regardless of how progressed the disease is or the symptoms being experienced, there is always hope for treatment. Treatment options can vary and often the most successful programs are those that are tailored to the individual. Several different programs are available that may help to benefit someone seeking treatment. For example, there are inpatient, outpatient, and detox programs. Inpatient treatment is when the person will stay at the facility.
The inpatient center will often offer counseling, support, and various exciting activities to keep the energy positive and uplifting. Outpatient treatment centers do not provide overnight care. While they may provide the same services as inpatient centers, those who choose outpatient may be more likely to be exposed to triggers that may result in a relapse. Detox can take place separately but usually takes place as part of an inpatient treatment center. Keep in mind that no two paths to recovery are the same. Outpatient treatment centers are a great place to start your recovery as well.
Myths Surrounding Treatment
Choosing the step towards treatment is a huge milestone that should be celebrated. However, there are myths and misconceptions that surround treatment for addiction. One of these myths is that it is capable to get treatment and recover on your own. This is further from the truth. Treatment provides you with expert advice and access to experienced medical professionals that are crucial for success. Trying to recover on your own could potentially be fatal.
Another myth is that treatment and rehab are only for the rich and famous. You do not have to be a celebrity to enroll in a treatment program and they are open for everyone. You may have also heard about the myth that you have to have hit rock bottom before you can seek help from professionals. Addiction treatment centers can benefit everyone and the sooner someone seeks help, the better.
How Long is Recovery?
Recovery is a lifelong commitment. Recovery starts when the person suffering can admit that they have a disease and wish to get help. It takes a lot of work to maintain sobriety and keep on the road to recovery. Taking that first step is a time for celebration and the person suffering, as well as loved ones of that person, should be very proud of their accomplishment.
Sobriety and recovery are a lifelong process that requires a lifelong commitment. While this may sound daunting, treatment centers can equip you with the tools you need to thrive. This makes the transition process much easier. Many of those who leave a treatment center successfully, choose to continue with a sober living home or join a local support group.
If you or someone you love is suffering from the damaging effects of drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.