Living with a drug addiction or a substance abuse disorder can make life painful, lonely, and gut-wrenching. Waking up day after day chasing a ‘high’ that gets harder and harder to find, spending all of your time, energy, and money to get your drug of choice not only robs you of joy, happiness, and peace of mind, it consumes every moment of your life. Addiction is painful and living in active addiction steals the joy of life from not only the person struggling with the substance abuse problem, but also their family and loved ones.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, there is help. You’re not alone. Others just like you have found the help they need and are now living a life beyond their wildest dreams. The possibility is real.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a chronic disease. And while addiction can’t always be ‘cured,’ it can be successfully managed much like other chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. People go on to live healthy, happy, and productive lives.
One of the biggest challenges those suffering from a drug addiction face is admitting they need help. Part of this is overcoming the stigma associated with the disease of addiction. There is a fear of being judged, which keeps many from seeking the treatment they need. Society believes those suffering with addiction choose to be addicted, that they have created this problem and can choose to stop. stop. In response, society will often wash its hands of the whole matter.
Breaking the Stigma—Help for Drug Addiction
Despite the large body of scientific evidence proving addiction is truly a chronic disease, many people still look with critical and judgmental eyes on those individuals who suffer with this disease. This stigma and lack of facts can prove detrimental, even fatal for many, who don’t seek help. The reasons for not seeking help are varied - fears such as loss of job, loss of status in the community, loss of friendships, judgment of others, are just a few, the list goes on.
According to Psychology Today, there are five myths commonly associated with addiction that deter a person who needs addiction treatment from getting help. One of these is that addiction is a choice. No one chooses to have an addiction any more than a person chooses to suffer from a cancer or a chronic disease. In fact, according to LiveScience, the brain of a person with an addiction is different than a nonaddict’s brain long before the substance abuse begins.
Neuroscientist Karen Esche who works in researching addictive behaviors at the University of Cambridge in England, states, “Drug addiction is a disease of the brain. It’s not a lifestyle choice. It falls in the same category as other psychiatric disorders that are serious and have a basis in the brain.”
Another false myth associated with addiction is that a person with an addiction is a bad person who needs—and deserves—to be punished. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People who have substance abuse disorders are ill and need treatment.
Addiction does not discriminate. It impacts people of all religions, races, genders, educational levels, socio-economic backgrounds and statuses, etc. Those who choose to seek help for their addiction show courage, strength, and hope. Change is real and possible. It begins with the first step—getting help for a drug addiction.
Getting help at a treatment center for drugs or drug rehab center is the first step towards recovery. People living with addiction need help; help in understanding their disease, getting clean, and learning new coping skills to live the life they, and their loved ones, deserve.
Factors Contributing to Drug Addiction
It’s important to understand that not everyone who uses a drug, illicit drugs or otherwise, will become addicted. As mentioned, addiction is a disease and, while many are predisposed to have an addiction, there are more factors contributing to the development of a drug or alcohol addiction.
Some of these risk factors for drug addiction or alcoholism are:
Environmental Risk Factors
• Difficult relationships and lack of parental supervision at an early age
• Compromised family units where family members use drugs or engage in criminal activities
• Early exposure to stressors
• Living in an impoverished community
• Lack of social skills
Biological Risk Factors
According to NIDA, genetics account for 40 to 60% of a person’s vulnerability towards addiction.
• Family history of addiction or alcoholism
• Early use of drugs or alcohol
• Method of use (smoking, injecting, etc.)
• Co-occurring mental health disorders
Symptoms of Addiction—What You Need to Know
Not sure if you or someone you love has an addiction? It can be hard to know what an addiction is and when you need help. With the abuse of prescription medications becoming an increasing problem, it can be challenging to know what is medical use of a prescription medication such as painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, etc. and what is truly abuse of a medication.
It can also be a challenge to understand and decipher what recreational drug or alcohol use is and when it crosses the line into addiction or alcoholism. With the legalization of marijuana becoming common across the nation, the use of this drug can also be challenging to understand if it is being misused or abused. However, there are signs of addiction to look for when you are concerned.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., some of the physical signs include:
• Sudden changes in weight
• Glazed eyes
• Bloodshot eyes
• Dilated or constricted pupils
• Bruises at possible injection sites
• Changes in appearance often lack of personal hygiene
• Withdrawal when not using the drug; irritability, nausea, shakiness, sweating, fatigue, headaches
Behavioral symptoms of an addiction can vary by each person and also by what drug is being abused. There are some symptoms that tend to be consistent, however.
• Changes in personality
• Loss of interest in hobbies, social activities, etc.
• Sudden mood changes
• Financial issues
• Lack of attending to responsibilities such as family, work, school, etc.
• Criminal activity
• Relationship issues
• Keeping secrets or behaving secretively
• Risk taking
Just as every person is different, addictions present differently. One person struggling with a drug addiction or alcoholism may be jobless, homeless, and in dire straits. Another person with the same addiction could continue to maintain a good job, have a home, and appear to be taking care of their responsibilities. Therefore, it’s vital to dig a little deeper and be observant of the above symptoms.
Most Commonly Misused Substances
While any substances can be misused or abused, a few are more commonly misused in the United States. One of the most widely abused substances is opiods. Opioids are defined by the National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA) as the class of drugs commonly prescribed as painkillers as well as illicit drugs such as heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Opioid painkillers are prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, etc. According to SAMSHA, opioid and heroine abuse is one of greatest public health concerns in the country. In fact, the misuse of opioids claims more lives annually than motor vehicle accidents and overdose is the leading cause of death for those under the age of 50. These are staggering statistics.
Another commonly misused substance is marijuana. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports marijuana as the most commonly abused illicit drug. The abuse of this substance is associated with short-term memory loss, learning complications, coordination issues, and a decreased ability to focus. When use starts in the teen years, the likelihood of addiction increases to every one in six users becoming addicted.
In addition to the abuse of prescription painkillers (opiods,) other prescription medications are becoming more and more commonly misused:
Methylphenidates such as Ritalin®, amphetamines such as Adderall®, and other drugs commonly prescribed for ADHD.
Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, barbiturates, anti-anxiety medications, sleep medications, and muscle relaxants.
• Cough medications
Medications prescribed for coughs containing codeine and promethazine are mixed with soda and being consumed. This is becoming more common among youth.
Many who start using prescription medications first obtain them at home. If you have prescription medications, it’s vital to keep them secured or dispose of them if not needed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests certain steps to properly dispose of prescription medications.
No matter what drug is being abused, the length of the abuse or misuse, or the person with the drug addiction, there is help. Seeking the care and support you need at the right drug treatment center can make the difference in living a good life or continuing to suffer with addiction.
There are numerous options for those seeking help for addiction.
Types of Drug Rehabilitation Programs
With a variety of treatment options for getting help for a drug or alcohol addiction available, it makes sense to determine what the best fit is for you or your loved one. From inpatient drug rehab to outpatient drug rehab, there is an option that will work, if recovery is sought, for everyone who struggles with addiction.
Best Drug Treatment Centers— Must-ask Questions
It’s important to ask certain questions when considering drug rehabilitation programs. Here are a few:
• What addictions are treated? (specific drugs, alcohol, etc.)
• What types of therapy are offered? (group, individual, CBT/DBT, etc.) Is this a residential, inpatient facility or outpatient program?
• Who provides the care? Do you have addiction medicine doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and addiction specialists on staff?
• What are the lengths of programs offered?
• Does the rehab have an initial detox program? What happens after detox?
• Is there treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders?
• Do they used medication-assisted therapy (MAT), such as Suboxone, buprenorphin What other support components are in place? (nutritional programs, art therapy, fitness, etc.)
• Is the family involved in treatment? Is there family programming?
• Is there after treatment support or a disease management plan provided?
• What is the cost of the program? Is insurance accepted and if so, what types?
Once you know a little bit more about the drug rehabs you are considering, you’ll want to decide between inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Inpatient Drug Treatment
Inpatient or residential treatment for drugs is one of the most commonly chosen types of rehab. In this type of treatment the person with the addiction lives at the treatment facility. Many inpatient treatment centers also offer detox, an important first part of treatment. While most inpatient treatment stays are 28 days, for many, this isn’t sufficient time to gain stability in sobriety after years of addiction. Most treatment centers offer varying lengths of stay. this often isn’t clinically enough time to gain stability in sobriety . A good treatment center will base the length of stay on each patient’s individual medical and clinical needs. The treatment team should develop a structured plan for after rehab to support long-term sobriety.
Inpatient treatment is the preferred method of drug rehab. While the person is in treatment they are free from not only the temptations, but also stressors of the outside. This enables the patient time to focus on building a foundation for lifelong recovery. Inpatient treatment is often recommended when outpatient treatment has been tried previously.
However, sometimes due to responsibilities, costs, and other factors a person is unable to go to inpatient treatment. In these cases, there are other proven methods of treatment for drug addiction.
Outpatient Drug Treatment
Outpatient drug treatment is a good option for those who are unable, or unwilling, to leave their family, work, or school responsibilities. There are different types of outpatient treatment programs for drug addiction. There is intensive outpatient treatment in which a person attends the treatment program during most of the day. There are also rehab after work programs where those seeking help can go after work or school. In addition, there are twelve step programs which have helped thousands recover with and without first attending rehab.
There are many treatment options available, but the key for lifelong recovery starts with the desire to get well.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol don’t give up. There is hope and help is just a phone call away.