How Drugs Affect The Brain
Our brains are wired to repeat experiences you find enjoyable, motivating you to do them again and again. Drugs can be so addictive because they target the brains reward system. When you take them, your brain becomes flooded with dopamine which triggers an intense feeling of pleasure.
This makes you want to take the drug again to repeat the experience. As you continue to do this, your brain gets used to the extra dopamine being released, meaning you need more to recreate the high feeling. Other activities you may have previously enjoyed like socialising or a certain hobby may now feel less enjoyable in comparison. You may, therefore, start withdrawing from those activities as you focus on the activity giving you the most pleasure – taking drugs.
Drug abuse over a long period can cause changes in your brain which can affect your judgment, decision-making abilities, your ability to learn and even your memory. These changes can then contribute to you wanting to take drugs again, even though you know it’s bad for your health.
Using Psychotherapy To Aid In Recovery From Addiction
Facilities offer therapies in different formats. Individual therapy gives people the chance to work through past trauma and current stress. Patients can do so in a one-on-one setting with a compassionate counselor or therapist.
Group therapy encourages clients to interact with each other as they build coping, daily living, and social skills. This helps to prepare people in recovery for life after treatment. It also helps to build confidence and self-respect, as well as interpersonal skills.
Whatever types of addiction therapy you receive, the goals are usually the same. Those goals include:
- Encouraging you to be more mindful in your life
- Helping you cope with stress or distress in healthy ways
- Learning to interact more effectively with others
- Helping you identify your emotional triggers and teaching you how to beat them
Recognizing A Dual Diagnosis
It can be difficult to identify a dual diagnosis. It takes time to tease out what might be a mental health disorder and what might be a drug or alcohol problem. The signs and symptoms also vary depending upon both the mental health problem and the type of substance being abused, whether its alcohol, recreational drugs, or prescription medications. For example, the signs of depression and marijuana abuse could look very different from the signs of schizophrenia and alcohol abuse. However, there are some general warning signs that you may have a co-occurring disorder:
- Do you use alcohol or drugs to cope with unpleasant memories or feelings, to control pain or the intensity of your moods, to face situations that frighten you, or to stay focused on tasks?
- Have you noticed a relationship between your substance use and your mental health? For example, do you get depressed when you drink? Or drink when youre feeling anxious or plagued by unpleasant memories?
- Has someone in your family grappled with either a mental disorder or alcohol or drug abuse?
- Do you feel depressed, anxious, or otherwise out of balance even when youre sober?
- Have you previously been treated for either your addiction or your mental health problem? Did the substance abuse treatment fail because of complications from your mental health issue or vice versa?
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Principles Of Effective Treatment
Based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, the following key principles should form the basis of any effective treatment program:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
- No single treatment is right for everyone.
- People need to have quick access to treatment.
- Effective treatment addresses all of the patients needs, not just their drug use.
- Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
- Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
- Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
- Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.
- Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
- Treatment doesnt need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
- Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.
Substance Abuse And Addiction In The Family Unit
According to Jeremy Frank, PhD, CADC, a Philadelphia addiction psychologist, “The effects and consequences on substance use on families are devastating. Over 7 million children in the United Statesmore than 10%live with a parent who has problems with alcohol, according to a 2012 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report. These children and their families are at risk for other co-morbid mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance use issues, and addiction.”
It may also be difficult for parents to address the addiction of an adult child. Parents may feel responsible for their child’s addiction or may be unsure of how to best help the child. In trying to help them overcome addictive behavior, they may at times end up enabling the child instead. In programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, these parents can learn how to keep from enabling their child while still offering love. Often a counselor or social worker can provide assistance to parents in this area and help them find the best way to bring up the subject of substance abuse and addiction with their child.
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Whos Likely To Be Affected
Because everyones body and brain are different, everyone will react to drugs differently. There are, however, some factors that can increase your likelihood of developing an addiction. These include:
Family history: Genetics do have a part to play when it comes to addiction. If your parents or siblings have addiction problems, you are likely to be more prone to addiction.
Drug use at an early age: As our brains are still growing when were young, taking drugs at an early age can have a big impact and may make you more likely to develop an addiction when you get older.
Existing mental health conditions: If youre already struggling with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, you may be more prone to turning to drug abuse to make you feel better. This can become an unhealthy coping mechanism and lead to addiction.
Relationship difficulties: If youve grown up with a troubled family life and you dont have a strong support system, you may be more likely to become addicted to drugs.
Trauma: Experiencing trauma can lead people to use drugs as a way of coping. If you’ve experienced trauma and have a predisposition to addiction, you may be especially vulnerable.
After my brothers death, I masked the trauma with alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. My family life had changed, we were drifting apart, and it felt like we were all walking around in a daze.
– Read Steve’s story.
Outpatient Or Residential Treatment
With residential treatment for addiction, the residents are separated from the things and places that have led them to get into drug use. They will live in a unique facility for a certain period that may last for a number of weeks to a few months. While living there, new skills and habits will be learned so that once they finish the program, they have a higher chance of staying sober.
This approach is effective for short term goals. However, studies on it are still ongoing if it can help individuals with addiction problems to stay away from old habits longer as compared to outpatient treatment programs.
With outpatient treatment programs for addiction, the sessions may be attended by recovering individuals. It will only be for a few hours a day. Participants continue to live in their house or in their familys home while they are recovering.
There have been studies that show that relapse is highly likely if people with addiction problems go from a residential treatment facility, which is controlled and supervised, to their homes, where it is much easier to go back to using drugs.
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Another consideration for residential addiction treatment is that it can be pricey as compared to outpatient programs. People who are planning to enroll in residential programs should be ready to spend on it in case their insurance wont cover the expense.
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What Are Behavioral Therapies For Drug Abuse
Behavioral therapies help individuals engage in their substance abuse programs by modifying their attitudes and behaviors regarding drug abuse, providing incentives for them to stay sober, and increasing their life skills so they can deal with challenging situations, triggers, and cravings. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has shown several different kinds of behavioral therapies for drug abuse are effective.
Psychological Trauma Affects Whom
Any individual, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sex, or irrespective of other observable factors may experience psychological trauma. However, certain factors can alleviate an individuals psychological distress. For example, people with healthy homes may process stressful experiences more efficiently, whereas some disorders in children may be predictive of the progression of PTSD later on.
Because patients suffering from psychological trauma come from all cultures and while it can be extraordinarily difficult to articulate other folks thoughts and emotions about their childhood trauma, psychological trauma mustnt be excluded from diagnosis until you can be confident that it is not a thing of the history of a person.
In the initial stages or maybe much later on in the life of distress, childrens psychological trauma might lead to the creation of trauma-related effects. The risk of PTSD, depression, and drug addiction in a patient raises after witnessing a traumatic childhood. Some of the most prevalent prevalence of kid psychological trauma include bullying, violence, and a traumatic accident.
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Provincial And Territorial Health And Support Services
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Signs Of Drug Addiction
In many cases of addiction, acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step. It can be hard to understand whether or not you have an addiction, especially if you haven’t been using drugs for that long. Below are some signs to look out for that could indicate you have an addiction.
- You feel a desire to use the drug every day or multiple times a day.
- You take more drugs than you want to and for a longer period than you wanted to.
- You keep using the drug even though you can see its affecting your work life and/or relationships.
- You find you are spending more and more time alone.
- Youre lying to those around you, stealing or doing dangerous things to get more drugs.
- You feel sick when you try to quit using the drug.
- You spend most of your time thinking about drugs – getting them, using them or recovering from them.
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The Addiction Debate: Choice Or Not
In a perfect illustration of the debate on the psychology behind addiction, Psychiatry Today published two articles on the same day in October 2002 on the topic: one entitled Addiction Is a Choice, and, presented as a counterpoint, Addiction Is a Disease. 41, 42
In Addiction Is a Choice, Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler states that there is no empirical support for the argument for addiction being a disease. Addiction, asserts Dr. Schaler, is a behavior, and thus clearly intended by the individual person. Among the evidence Dr. Schaler presents is the overtly religious nature of 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. How can addiction be a disease, he asks, if the best available treatment is religion? If the philosophy of the 12-Step method is to be believed, addiction is an ethical problem, not a medical one. Even psychotherapy and counseling, which boils down to conversation and talk therapy, are based on the disease model convincing the client that their substance use and resultant actions are the result of an illness, not a choice. If addiction is a disease, addicts cannot control what they do. Dr. Schaler warns that impressing this upon clients may give them the idea that they are absolved from responsibility for their actions any wrongdoing they committed during their addiction can be blamed on the disease.
Substance Abuse Counseling Techniques
Counseling and therapy for addiction help individuals understand what causes addiction, learn to recognize risk factors for relapse and develop tools for coping with stressful situations. Common techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and dialectical behavioral therapy.
The underlying causes ofaddiction are mostly genetic and environmental. A persons genetic makeup can make him or her more prone to sensation-seeking behavior, more compulsive mand more vulnerable to addiction. Life events such as trauma, stress and early exposure to substances of abuse can also affect a persons vulnerability.
Addiction causes physical and mental side effects. Physical side effects includecravings and withdrawal symptoms, and mental side effects include increased stress and feelings of depression, anxiety or loneliness.
Effective treatment focuses on the genetic and environmental causes of addiction. It also treats the physical and mental side effects.
Detox keeps patients physically safe and as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. Therapy treats the mental aspects. Depending on the severity of the disease, detox can remove cravings and withdrawal symptoms in one to three weeks. However, most people require months or years of continuous counseling to recover from the mental side effects.
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Understanding What An Addiction Is
Addictions are a complex brain disease that takes control of the lives of people who have become addicted to substances or activities such as gambling. A seemingly bad habit becomes a full-blown addiction once the person develops a compulsive behaviour where he or she continues to do something even if there are already harmful and destructive consequences to such actions.
Individuals who are suffering from an addiction such as illicit drugs become very focused on one thing, and that is continually consuming their substance of choice so that they can get high. This is not just because they want to do it.
Even if they want to stop, they cant because their bodies have become dependent on that substance. Without alcohol or drugs, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms that are really difficult to deal with, even fatal. Thats why the process of detoxification is important and should be done in a controlled and supervised environment. This is to make sure that the recovering addict is monitored for any severe withdrawal symptoms and be treated accordingly.
Psychotherapy For Substance Abuse Recovery At Crest View Recovery Center
Not only is addiction a difficult problem to solve, but its also hard to treat. With so many facilities that treat drug or alcohol addiction, finding the right treatment for your needs is especially difficult. Its often challenging for people to determine the best rehab center. This is mainly because not every treatment facility offers the best care options for some people.
Everyone is different. Each individual who experiences addiction has his or her own story. The best rehab programs understand these truths and take them into account. But, many individuals refrain from getting help for fear that the rehab center they choose wont be able to help.
Psychotherapy for substance abuse is a hallmark of the most effective substance abuse treatment programs. Thats why we offer it here at Crest View Recovery Center.
Located in a serene mountain environment in Asheville, Crest View Recovery Center blends effective psychotherapy approaches with a treatment experience grounded in reality-based therapy. Our rehab treatment program offers an inpatient feel without the constraints of a residential treatment program experience. We feel this gives clients the best chance to experience lasting recovery.
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Nicotine Addiction: Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy uses gum, inhalers, or patches to deliver nicotine in a less harmful way than traditional cigarettes. This therapy provides the addict with nicotine in a clean, controlled dose.
The brain responds in the same way as if the person had smoked a cigarette. The nicotine binds to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the mesolimbic pathway .
It stimulates the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens .
Over time, smaller and smaller doses of nicotine are given, e.g., smaller patches. Withdrawal syndromes thus become a lot more manageable as there is no shock withdrawal. Consider the following studies.
- Maity et al. : In this review, they analysed three agents known to be partial agonists to nicotine receptors: Varenicline, Cytisine, and Dianicline.
Nicotine interacts with neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors , which release neurotransmitters such as dopamine and noradrenaline upon activation.
The three partial agonists activate the nAChR receptors at lower concentrations than pure agonists, by which we mean nicotine. They help reduce addiction to smoking by maintaining dopamine levels to reduce withdrawal symptoms when a person quits smoking. They found that these partial agonists were the most promising drug therapy for reducing and stopping smoking, with one study on Vernicline showing that around46.4% of people on Varenicline could stop smoking by the end of treatment.