The Facts About Addiction And Recovery
Anyone would find it hard to talk about a subject they dont know much about. If youre not into a certain popular television show and everyone around you is talking about the latest episode, youll be at a loss for words not because youre a poor conversationalist or dont care, but simply because you dont have the facts.
The same goes for addiction and recovery. You find it hard to talk to someone about their addiction and recovery because you dont know what theyre going through. Its helpful to understand what addiction is and isnt, and what going through recovery really means.
How Do People Overcome Drug Addiction
Although drug addiction creates physical and chronic changes in the brain, there is good news. The brain can be re-wired again. Substance addiction is actually very treatable and manageable. Of course, this cant happen overnight. Much like it took time for the persons brain to re-wire in favor of drug use, it takes time for the brain to re-wire back to a healthier state.
Overcoming addiction requires modified routines and thought processes. It means replacing drug use with healthy behaviors like exercise and cooking. It also involves re-framing a persons outlook and definition of drug use it is not a matter of survival, but a process of destruction. This requires education, combined with cognitive therapy to get to the root of their drug-using behaviors.
Over time, the brain can be taught to crave healthier behaviors and to dismiss drug cravings by considering the outcomes and alternatives. It can be taught to seek and prioritize meaningful relationships and activities, rather than drugs and alcohol. It can be taught this through abstinence, ongoing therapy, active management, cognitive reframing, and professional support.
How To Set Boundariesand Stick To Them
Dont: Enable Your Loved One
There can be a fine line between helping someone with an addiction and enabling them. Sometimes when we think were protecting a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we are actually enabling them to continue with potentially destructive behavior.
For example, if youre trying to figure out how to help an alcoholic, keeping them from drinking and driving is helpful, since that could put them and others in danger. However, consistently offering to drive them home whenever they get too intoxicated is enabling their actions, because its setting up a formula in which you are constantly available to rescue them.
Studies show that people with addictions are more likely to proactively seek treatment when they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. So, if you want to know how to help someone with an addiction, allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue.
Its important to set up boundaries and rules, both for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one and its important to enforce those rules and boundaries. This is the only part of Recovery in which tough love is beneficial, since its done for both you and your loved ones protection.
How Do I Know If Someone Needs Help For Their Drug Or Alcohol Use
It can be difficult to tell if a person is consuming harmful levels of drugs or alcohol, especially if theyre trying to hide their drug or alcohol use.
Some drugs can result in noticeable physical symptoms, including:
- pupils that are larger or smaller than normal
A person may be misusing drugs or alcohol if their use leads to:
- difficulty keeping up at school or work
- relationship or family problems
- legal or financial difficulties
- injuries for example, due to accidents or violence after using drugs or alcohol
If you know that someone is using drugs or alcohol, they might be at risk of developing a problem if they:
- find it difficult to cut down or stop using
- spend a lot of their time trying to find or use drugs or alcohol
- use increasingly larger amounts of substances over time
- use substances more often over time
- have unpleasant symptoms when stopping or cutting down on drugs or alcohol
However, not everyone who misuses drugs or alcohol wants help.
Its also important to know that people may experience symptoms similar to those listed above but for reasons that arent related to drug use. This is especially true of young people coping with the challenges of adolescence.
If you arent sure whether a person is misusing drugs or alcohol or needs help, start a conversation to see if theyre OK.
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How Can You Help A Loved One Get The Help They Need
Mention the word treatment in relation to substance use and many people think of long-term residential facilities or detox. In fact, treatment includes both of these options and a variety of others.
Treatment addresses the individuals physical, psychological, emotional, and social conditions. Sustained reduction in alcohol or other drug use and sustained increases in personal health and social function are the primary goals.
The type of treatment is based on the severity of the problem. For risky people with an active addiction, treatment can be as simple as a screening and a brief intervention. For people exhibiting signs of dependence or addiction, a screening will probably lead to a referral for more intense level of care.
All treatment starts with a screening, which is a series of questions about the amount and frequency of alcohol or other drug use and the consequences it may be causing. Screening can be done by many types of professionals, including a physician in a hospital or an office, a nurse, a clinical social worker, or a licensed substance abuse counselor.
To help someone you know who you think may have a substance use problem, you first need to get them screened. Your best bet is to talk to your own physician or employee assistance professional about referring you to someone who can help, such as a licensed substance abuse counselor or family therapist.
To find a treatment program, visit SAMHSAs Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.
Legal Drugs Vs Illegal Drugs
People can become addicted to illegal drugs, legal drugs, and prescription medications used in an unhealthy way, such as:
Nicotine, including cigarettes and vaping
Misusing prescription medicines like opioids, or over-the-counter medicines by taking them in a different way than intended, such as:
Taking medicine prescribed for someone else
Taking a larger dose than prescribed
Using the medicine in a different way than directed, such as crushing and snorting or injecting
Using the medicine to get high on purpose
The risks and speed of developing an addiction depend on the drug. Some drugs, like opioid painkillers, cause addiction very quickly. Drugs have a strong effect on the brains reward system, by filling the brain with a chemical called dopamine which produces the feeling of being high. Over time, the brain gets used to the larger amount of dopamine so it needs larger doses of the drug to get high. Some people might feel like they need the drug to just feel normal. When drugs are used for a long time, they damage the areas of the brain responsible for judgment, decision-making, memory, and learning.
No matter the type of addiction, if you recognize symptoms, it is important to seek the necessary help. Contact us today to take the first step.
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What Causes Addiction To A Person
Since this form of addiction is so centered on seeking external validation, it is closely related to early childhood attachment experiences.
In a study titled, Psychological Correlates of Codependency in Women, they state:
An association was demonstrated between codependency and parental alcoholism, or history of childhood abuse, or both.
These early childhood experiences may increase a persons likelihood of developing codependent relationships. Early turmoil can instill a deep sense of distrust and relational insecurity.
Psychologists refer to this relational style as anxious attachment. Inconsistent displays of affection in childhood may result in a child being generally anxious, fearing potential abandonment. In adulthood, this results in distrusting others while simultaneously craving intimacy.
The lack of secure attachment can result in persons being highly dependent on relationships, often concerned about abandonment from a romantic partner. Rather than getting to the root of the issue, persons with this type of relational addiction seek short-term reassurance at the expense of long-term relational health and security.
Some of these short-term behaviors include the following:
- Trying to impress others to get their approval
- Trying to fix others
- Doing things to be perceived as the hero
- Excessive gift-giving
- Constantly adapting to fit in
In The Event Of A Relapse
The current understanding of addiction as a disease means that symptoms will get worse at times. For people with diabetes or asthma, treatment will work for a period of time, and then symptoms may progress. This does not mean giving up instead, it means returning to the doctor and developing a new treatment regimen. Understanding addiction as a disease means treating relapse in exactly this way: Work to avoid it, but if it happens, return to treatment. Relapse is only a serious problem when the person who has fallen back into addiction refuses to admit the problem and refuses to get help.
When looking at treatment options, it is important to ask how the rehabilitation program handles relapse. Many programs pair new participants with sponsors who have graduated the program these people will understand the progression of recovery and serve as a source of support for the person if they are even tempted to relapse.
Friends and family should also be supportive if a loved one seems likely to relapse. Be there for the person without judgment and help them recommit to treatment.
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Find An Approach That Works
There are a number of different treatment options that can be effective, so it is important to consider the options. Think about which approach might be best suited to you and your loved one’s needs and goals.
Depending on the nature of the addiction, treatment might involve psychotherapy, medication, support groups, or a combination of all of these. A few options include:
Other important factors that can affect a person’s recovery include family involvement and other social supports. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that family therapy is an important part of an effective recovery plan.
Take Care Of Yourself First
It can be easy to feel devoted to helping someone get out of drug addiction, but you need to take care of yourself first. If you are not taking proper care of yourself, you wont be able to help someone else.
That means getting a full 8 hours of sleep, exercising, eating well, and even seeking mental health counseling or support groups.
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Denial Is A Form Of Self
People with addictions may seemingly live in denial but it usually runs on a spectrum. For example, if youre shooting up heroin every day just to prevent withdrawal symptoms and youve lost your job and house, youre probably aware your drug use isnt normal. On the other hand, if youre a high-functioning alcoholic and youre managing to keep your life together, for the most part, you can convince yourself that youve got everything under control. An addicted person may be operating under some form of self-deception or outward denial to loved ones, even if they know they have a problem.
In either case, addiction denial is often a defense mechanism because youre terrified of life without substances. This occurs for a few reasons:
Do I Know Why My Loved One Began Using Drugs
People start using drugs for any number of reasons. It may help you determine how to frame your conversation with your loved one if you have an idea of the root cause of their addiction. A few reasons people begin to take drugs include:
- Enjoyment No one begins using drugs with the express desire to become an addict. The simplest motive for taking a drug is the way it makes you feel. Drugs can create a feeling of pleasure for the user.
- Curiosity Drugs can change the way you feel and think. The chance to experience an altered state can be very alluring.
- Peer Pressure Peer pressure, commonly thought of as a teen phenomenon, persists throughout life. Depending on your loved ones environment and social group, the pressure to take and continue taking drugs can be high.
- Availability Again depending on the environment, drugs can be easily available and inexpensive.
- Distraction Everyone struggles with keeping their thoughts under control at times. Some people will turn to drugs to help distract them from their everyday problems.
- Pain Control Oftentimes addiction stems from a legally prescribed drug, such as an opioid. Chronic pain sufferers can require more and stronger doses to manage their symptoms. They may even turn to illegal drugs, such as heroin, if they can no longer get or abuse legal options.
- Self-medication People turn to illegal drugs as a form of self-medication, whether for pain, mental illness or some other health issue.
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Questions To Ask People Close To Your Loved One
You may see more or less of your loved ones struggle with addiction, depending on who they are to you. If you are worried about your spouse or another family member you live with, youll see them every day and have a clearer picture of what has been happening. If you are worried about a family member or friend you do not live with, it may be more difficult to see warning signs and decide how to talk about addiction.
You can speak to other people who care about your loved one. Be sure to talk to people who you can trust to have your family member or friends best interests at heart. These questions can help you get a better understanding of how to talk to your loved one, and they may get others thinking about how they can help, too.
Understanding Why Your Loved One Doesnt Want To Go To Rehab
Even though Canada suffers from a strong prevalence of drug abuse, only 1 in 10 people suffering from addiction seek out some form of treatment. The stats are unfortunate since there are many resources for individuals to take advantage of. This includes online information, inpatient rehabilitation, and help phone lines.
Many individuals choose not to admit themselves to rehabilitation for a number of personal reasons. Whether these reasons are acceptable or not, they are often the things that stop people from getting the help they so desperately need.
If someone you know requires rehabilitation but refuses to attend, it may be hard to understand. However, the following are 5 reasons people dont go to rehab, to help you get a better grasp on the potential underlying issues.
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The Effects Of Drug Abuse And Addiction On Family And Friends
Witnessing someone you care about battle a substance use disorder can be extremely distressing and take a heavy toll on your own mental and emotional well-being. Whether the drug abuser is a close friend, spouse, parent, child, or other family member, its easy for their addiction to take over your life. It can pile stress upon stress, test your patience, strain your bank balance, and leave you racked by feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, frustration, and sadness.
You may worry about where your loved one is at any given time, their risk of overdosing, or the damage theyre doing to their health, future, and home life. You may be in debt from paying their living expenses, the cost of legal troubles resulting from their drug abuse, or from failed attempts at rehab and recovery. You may also be worn down by covering for your loved one at home or work, having to shoulder the responsibilities they neglect, or being unable to devote more time to other family, friends, and interests in your life.
As despairing as you may feel, youre not alone in your struggle. A Pew Research Center survey in 2017 found that nearly half of Americans have a family member or close friend whos been addicted to drugs. Across the Western world, the abuse of prescription pain relievers and tranquillizers has skyrocketed in recent years, creating a public health crisis.