It can be one of the hardest things in your life to come to terms with, the fact that you have an addiction and will require professional treatment in order to stop using and abusing dangerous substances.
Whether you are addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal substances, there are a number of warning signs that are similar across the board, and there are ways to recognize and accept that you need help. But once you do, you can begin seeking the treatment you need in order to recover from addiction and start a new, better life.
For immediate help, call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?) to speak with a caring admissions coordinator that can guide you in the process of finding and choosing a rehab program that’s right for your needs.
Ask Yourself: Could I Be an Addict?
The most important way to begin this journey is to ask yourself if you may be an addict and if your drug use has gotten out of your control. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.”
If you believe you may have already come to this point, it is important to accept your truth and to work on making a change. Call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?) if you would like to receive more information about rehab centers that can help you recover from addiction.
While you likely will not be able to recover from addiction and stop abusing dangerous substances completely on your own, there are many individuals, rehab programs, and treatment options that can help you do so. But the first step begins when you realize that you may have a serious problem with substance abuse and that you require the help of others and professional treatment in order to stop.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a serious illness that occurs when a person is no longer able to control their substance abuse. When you abuse drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous substances, changes in the brain and how it works occur and your brain begins to crave the feelings that only these substances can create. This causes your cravings and urges to abuse substance more until, ultimately, the act becomes more of a compulsive behavior.
With treatment, this issue can be resolved considerably, and a you can begin to live a normal life again. However, the disease itself causes relapse rates similar to other chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma, so it is important that you remain in recovery and stay focused on creating a better life for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, call our toll-free helpline at 800-743-5860(Who Answers?) to get immediate access to the treatment you deserve.
How Does Someone Become an Addict?
There are several factors that make you more susceptible to addiction. These factors are:
- Biology: Your genes can make you more likely to develop an addiction after abusing dangerous substances for a period of time. If other people in your family were also addicts, you have a heightened risk of suffering the same problems with substance abuse. Gender, ethnicity, and psychological state are also factors that can affect someone’s likelihood of becoming an addict.
- Development: Your stage of development can affect your likelihood of addiction. Adolescents are much more likely to become addicted to the substances they abuse because their brain’s are not fully developed yet. Younger individuals are also more likely to develop a co-occurring mental disorder, which can often lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
- Environment: The influences in your environment, including your family and friends, what you see on a daily basis, your socioeconomic status, and the things you’ve experienced in life all influence the potential risk of becoming an addict.
Individuals who have factors in their lives that are more likely to lead to addiction such as having a mental disorder, having experienced physical or sexual abuse, or being younger and more likely to take risks should consider that these factors seriously increase their chance of suffering from addiction if drugs or alcohol are used. These factors can even increase the chances of becoming a drug user in the first place. Likewise, anyone can become an addict at any time in their life regardless of race, socioeconomic factor, environment or other personal events.
If you know you have these risk factors in your life though, it is better to avoid substance abuse even in the smallest amounts that you may otherwise believe to be harmless. If you’re already addicted, call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?) for immediate help.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Each drug of abuse causes its own short- and long-term side effects, but overall, a person who becomes an addict is likely to exhibit a number of specific issues. The problems caused by addiction will continue to worsen and become difficult to ignore. An addict will likely:
- Neglect responsibilities in favor of abusing drugs
- Use substances frequently, even when alone
- Make excuses to use these substances, often blaming their use on something else
- Experience problems with their friends and family members, especially after their loved ones express growing concerns about their substance abuse and their health, safety, etc.
- Take serious risks with their drug abuse, either by using dirty or shared needles, driving while intoxicated, having unprotected sex, or doing other things they normally wouldn’t do because they are unsafe
- Stop enjoying activities or abandoning activities that used to matter to them
- Take drugs in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms they would experience otherwise (sometimes only to avoid these symptoms, as tolerance can cause the individual to no longer feel the desired effects)
- Continue to use drugs even when they know it is hurting them or their loved ones
- Stop caring about their personal hygiene or appearance
- Experience mood swings which can be severe
- Become paranoid or hostile when others bring up their substance abuse in a bad light
- Experience psychological and physical health problems as a result of their drug abuse but refuse to stop using the drug
- Get reprimanded at work, lose their jobs, or experience other issues in their daily life that are caused by their drug abuse
- Get arrested or otherwise legally reprimanded for their substance abuse
- Experience severe financial issues caused by using and buying drugs outside of their means
- Need to abuse drugs daily––often more than once per day––in order to function
These are all strong signs that one’s drug abuse has advanced into an addiction. But the strongest, most significant sign revolves around whether or not the individual feels in control of their substance abuse. Ask yourself if you feel that you would be able to stop using drugs or if you believe you could cut back if you wanted to.
If you are unsure about whether or not you would be able to stop if you tried, you are probably addicted and would struggle to do so. Especially if you have tried to quit or minimize your drug use before and been unsuccessful, the chances are strong that you are already an addict.
What Should I Do?
If you believe you may be addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or another substance, it is important to seek treatment right away. We can help you get well, call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?).
Do not hesitate to seek help; all addictions are dangerous, and you could suffer from irreversible or potentially deadly side effects even from over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Starting treatment with a professional program will change your life.
How is Addiction Diagnosed?
It is important to get the opinion of a doctor about your substance abuse and whether or not it may or may not already be an addiction. If you visit a general practitioner, they will ask you several questions pertaining to your drug use, your behavior, and your feelings toward these issues. The doctor may recommend whether or not you could benefit from addiction treatment.
The criteria doctors use to diagnose addiction is the same as the signs and symptoms listed above. The doctor will also ask if you experience tolerance toward the drug you use, as well as physical and/or psychological dependence, and if you have tried to cut back or quit in the past and been unable to. Once you have been officially diagnosed by a doctor, your treatment can start.
How Does Addiction Treatment Work?
While in addiction rehab, you will receive your own treatment program that caters to your needs as an individual and helps you make a change in your life to stop abusing drugs and fight your addiction. The two most commonly used treatment options for addiction are medication and behavioral therapy. According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, “Research shows that when [treating] substance-use disorders, a combination of medication and behavioral therapies is most successful.”
- Medication: Medications are used to reestablish normal brain functions for addicts, to help prevent relapse, and to treat withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, though, not all drugs of abuse have medications that are FDA-approved to treat their addiction syndromes. The following substance addictions can be treated using medication:
- prescription medications
- Pharmacological Treatment: Even for drugs that do not have official pharmacological treatments, certain medications can be used to minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms or to generally make it easier for a patient to deal with the side effects of ending their substance abuse.
- Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy has been found effective for nearly every type of addiction syndrome. While certain individuals respond differently to different types of behavioral therapy, most of these programs are specially tailored to help addicts make important changes in their lives that will help lead them to recovery and reduced substance abuse. Some of the most commonly used behavioral treatments include:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- contingency management
- motivational enhancement therapy
- family and couples therapy
- group therapy
- Behavioral treatments like these can help patients:
- Recognize the pros and cons of continued drug abuse
- Learn to identify and avoid their triggers
- Create exercises for themselves that help them avoid relapse
- Increase healthy and beneficial lifestyle skills
- Learn to see their substance abuse in a different way, causing them to change their behavior
Often, individuals need to attend more than one program for addiction in their lifetime in order to avoid further drug abuse. And while these are the two most common treatment options, there are many others that utilize different theories in order to help patients recover from addiction and learn to live their lives again.
Getting Help and Making a Change
If you believe you have an addiction, call 800-743-5860(Who Answers?). We can help you find a rehab center that will cater to your needs as a patient and allow you to create the kind of treatment program and recovery you want for your life. In addition, we can answer any other questions you may have about substance abuse, addiction, and rehabilitation. Call today 800-743-5860(Who Answers?), and begin your journey of recovery as soon as possible.