Substance dependency, commonly recognised as drug addiction, presents as an escalating issue whereby individuals become incapable of refraining from the use of certain narcotics, despite being cognizant of their harmful effects.
The stark reality of this predicament is that these individuals earnestly wish to desist, comprehending fully the life-threatening consequences that could ensue, yet find themselves ensnared in an unyielding cycle of substance misuse.
A vital element of drug addiction is that the individual develops a physical reliance on the substance in question. Ceasing consumption of the substance prompts both emotional and physical distress.
At first, the consumption of these drugs induces a sense of pleasure for the user. However, as time progresses, this initial pleasure diminishes and the predominant urge becomes avoidance of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
This process ultimately modifies the individual’s brain chemistry, creating a state of complete dependence on the substance.
As time passes, the individual using the substance develops a tolerance, necessitating increased doses for the same effect.
The cravings for the substance grow stronger, and it can seem like one is trapped in an endless, harmful cycle. However, at Luxe Recovery, we are committed to helping you regain a healthy, healing lifestyle.
How substance addiction affects you
Humans are innately driven to pursue pleasure, or rewards. Generally, these rewards are derived naturally from life events like sharing moments with people you love, engaging in enjoyable activities, physical exercise, or having quality family time.
Such experiences typically release a chemical called dopamine into your brain, which essentially results in feelings of happiness.
When substances are abused, they cause an excessive release of dopamine in the brain.
This leads the brain of the individual misusing the substance to depend on this reaction, as the dopamine release previously stimulated by enjoyable activities no longer seems sufficient.
In essence, the substance creates an imbalance in the user’s brain. This abnormal dopamine release changes the patterns of thinking and behavior of the individual using the substance.
This imbalance and irregularity trigger the start of a relentless cycle: consuming drugs to feel pleasure, followed by repeated drug use in an attempt to recapture that initial high.
This dynamic is a significant reason why healthcare professionals categorize addiction as a “brain disease.”
Many individuals struggling with addiction initially experiment with substances voluntarily and often without substantial harm. However, as dependence evolves into addiction, the functionality of the person using the substance becomes severely compromised.
Regrettably, the progression of addiction often leads to fatal consequences for the individual.
What Causes Substance Addiction?
The motivations behind drug misuse can differ greatly among individuals.
Some common underlying factors include unresolved mental health problems, poverty, the grief of losing loved ones, relationship challenges, stress, medical conditions, trauma, emotional or physical pain, among others.
An individual might turn to drugs as an escape from reality, to obliterate painful past memories, or to alleviate worries about future uncertainties. The reasons are as diverse as the individuals themselves.
Similar to many other mental and physical conditions, both genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of substance addiction.
Increasing evidence indicates that the onset of substance addiction can be influenced by genes inherited from your parents.
These genetic traits or factors can accelerate or decelerate the progression of addiction, and may even determine whether an addiction develops at all.
Research also underscores the significant role of one’s environment in the development of substance addiction.
Factors such as exposure to parental drug use, the influence of peer groups, and social pressure all contribute to the likelihood of an individual developing a substance addiction.
What are the signs and symptoms of Substance Addiction?
Let’s delve into some indicators that can assist you in determining whether you’re struggling with substance addiction and if it’s time to reach out for help.
- You’re struggling with social interactions, and your addiction is causing you to lose relationships with friends and loved ones.
- Despite wanting to stop using the substance, you continue to do so. It feels as though you can’t control this aspect of your life, even though it’s causing harm.
- You continue to use a prescribed medication even when it’s no longer medically necessary.
- You’re experiencing an increased craving for the substance and taking higher doses.
- When attempting to stop using the drugs, you feel unwell, dizzy, and sick. Symptoms can include depression, loss of appetite, or sleep disturbances.
- Your thoughts are constantly consumed by drugs, affecting your ability to concentrate, and you’re preoccupied with how they make you feel.
- You’re unable to set and stick to limits. Despite previous intentions to cut back, you find yourself using even more.
- You’re losing interest in almost everything, and even simple daily tasks become a significant challenge.
- In all situations, you prioritize obtaining drugs, even resorting to borrowing or stealing when funds are low.
- Your behavior is causing distress for your loved ones. You’re not giving them the attention they deserve, and you’re easily angered and frustrated.
- You’re hiding the negative signs and symptoms resulting from your substance use from others.
- You’ve lost control over your life, and it’s becoming increasingly chaotic and unmanageable.
Principles of Effective Treatment
- There is no one-size-fits-all treatment; individualized plans are key.
- Effective treatment takes into account the patient’s personal history and unique needs.
- A blend of behavioral therapies, counseling, and holistic methods should be used for a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment.
- Education and monitoring of medications is crucial, particularly as treatment begins.
- A comprehensive treatment approach also addresses any co-occurring disorders or mental health issues alongside substance addiction treatment.
Treatments of Drug Addiction
Substance addiction treatment encompasses various phases and components. Below, we delve into some of the principal elements of such treatment.
Detoxification is the process where your body starts eliminating the harmful toxins introduced through substance use. Healthcare professionals closely monitor this phase and assist in making the detoxification process as smooth as possible.
Medication-assisted therapies (MAT)
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines counseling with prescription medications to tackle alcohol and opioid addiction.
The medications used in MAT help balance brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, and eliminate physical cravings, all without the side effects associated with addictive drugs.
Behavioral therapies have been demonstrated to be highly effective in substance addiction treatment. These therapies strive to help the patient alter their drug-related behaviors, boost self-esteem, and cultivate new, healthy habits and skills, among other objectives.
Numerous behavioral therapy methods are utilised in substance addiction treatment, including the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral therapy: Where the patient is helped to identify situations and contexts that are likely to trigger a relapse. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, patients learn effective coping strategies to use when confronting challenging emotions.
- Motivational Interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a type of behavioral therapy where the therapist facilitates behavior change by pinpointing and addressing the motivations behind substance use. This is done through asking probing questions to explore the underlying reasons for the patient’s behavior.
- Multidimensional family therapy: This approach involves both the patient and their family. The goal is to shed light on the impact of drugs on the lives of patients and their loved ones, and to enhance the overall functioning of the family.
What medications are available to help with substance use disorder?
Medications are often an integral part of effective treatment for substance use disorders. For opioid addiction, commonly used drugs include Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. For alcohol addiction, treatments frequently involve the use of Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.
Risks for substance use disorder
Misuse of drugs can trigger various mental health issues, and in some instances, these mental health conditions may predate the substance use. The concurrent existence of mental illness and escalating substance misuse often exacerbates both conditions.
Substance Use Addiction in the US
In the United States alone, it’s reported that nearly 1 in 10 individuals struggle with substance addiction. Unfortunately, substance addiction, including heavy alcohol use, often leads to fatal outcomes for the user.
However, research shows that over 20 million adults in the US successfully enter and maintain recovery following treatment.
A note from Luxe Recovery
Substance addiction is a chronic disease, but with appropriate treatment and counseling, recovery is achievable. Different treatments and therapies work for diverse individuals, and it’s vital that your treatment plan is customized to your specific needs.
We’re here to provide assistance. We encourage you to reach out to us, so we can embark on this journey together, helping you live a healthy, peaceful life, and evolve into the best version of yourself.
Remain Joyful, Remain Well!
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