Drug and alcohol abuse through self-medicating is one of the leading causes of addiction, and it is likely to produce life-threatening symptoms. Addiction is indicated by continued drug-seeking and misuse of substances, consequently affecting the brain in long-term harmful ways. A mental and medical illness that devastates millions of Americans, addiction is the most severe form of substance use disorders. Without treatment, the changed behavior associated with addiction can result in overdose, physical and mental health issues, and more damaging conditions.
Substance misuse can affect both the user and their loved ones. But anyone can recover from addiction when they go through treatment. If you know or suspect that your loved one is misusing drugs and suffering from addiction, now is the time to assess treatment options and seek help.
Consequences of Addiction
When someone begins to take drugs, this initial choice is largely voluntary. But over time, this person may not be able to exert self-control. According to brain imaging, this is because people who suffer from addiction have gone through substantial brain changes in areas that control learning, memory, decision-making, judgment, and behavior. Substance misuse, or abuse, is the improper and continual use of drugs or alcohol, is usually to relieve stress and increase mood.
Addiction can be characterized through behavioral changes caused by growing dependence on substances. These behavioral changes include compulsivity in drug-seeking, lack of control, and excessive and risky use, social impairment, and increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Affecting the user physically, emotionally, and behaviorally, these changes are linked to symptoms associated with substance use disorder, which can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
What Should You Do?
If you know or suspect that a loved one is suffering from drug or alcohol abuse and addiction, you can do several things to help them before suggesting treatment. This is a delicate process because your loved one is emotionally charged, as well as physically and behaviorally changed. Throughout this process, it is important to remember to take care of yourself and manage your own emotional and mental health.
Understand your own needs and the situation to make sure that you can approach them from a sensitive and empathetic perspective. This will help you to communicate with them more effectively and have productive, open conversations about their struggle and needs. Educate yourself on the struggles and the consequences of addiction to better understand where they are coming from.
Begin these conversations by building trust. Explain to them that you will not judge them and that you will do everything that you can to create a space free of judgment, but full of support, where they can talk to you. You must also understand that they probably will not be willing to admit that they are experiencing problems and that they need and want help. Be physically and verbally supportive.
Encourage them in these moments of vulnerability, and be there for them with a hug and/or shoulder to cry on if they need it. Even if they keep asking, make sure to stop all enabling behavior, such as giving your loved one money, as soon as you can identify evidence of addiction. Stop skimming over the problem because they need to start being held accountable for their actions. But make sure that you do not show any judgment by stating facts, such as missed days of work.
Remind and assure them that addiction does not make them a bad person. Addiction can happen to anyone, and they do not have control over it. It is a complex, mental disease that can produce emotional negativity. This condition is not their fault, and it is not your fault. The last step is to end the conversation in an optimistic tone as you suggest treatment.
There are several methods that have proven to be successful in treating addiction and helping patients fully recover. Listed below are these medical options.
- Behavioral counseling. This helps to increase healthy skills and choices, changing behavior related to substance use, along with other forms of treatment, such as medication. This exists as different kinds of outpatient behavior treatment, typically involving behavioral therapy in individual or group settings. This is also available as different options for inpatient or residential treatment with 24-hour structured and intensive medical care.
- Medical applications and devices used to treat withdrawal symptoms, which can be a long, exhausting mental and emotional battle. They can help suppress these symptoms during detoxification.
- Medication, when prescribed and used moderately. Medications can also be used to suppress withdrawal symptoms, as well as regulate brain function and decrease substance craving to prevent relapse.
- Evaluation and treatment for combating co-existing mental health issues (i.e. anxiety, depression, etc.)
- Long-term follow-up(s) to prevent relapses, which can happen if one is not careful
Treatment programs are tailored to the needs of each patient, and they should include a range of medical and mental health services along with follow-ups. Follow-up can be recovery support systems that are community-based or family-based.
When to Seek Help
As mentioned, it is important to get help as soon as possible when you suspect that a loved one is suffering from substance abuse and addiction. No matter the duration or length of the situation, addiction is treatable and can be managed effectively. Anyone can achieve long-term sobriety and recovery, so it is never too late to start!
According to research, the best way is to pair behavioral therapy with medications in the healing process; overcome addiction with the help of health professionals. The team of professionals at the Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is dedicated to helping each patient on their road to recovery and will go above and beyond to meet every need. Call today, and speak to someone who will help your loved one get back to where they want to be!
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
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