Do you ever have the question: am I addicted? Addiction is a daily struggle that damages lives and tears apart families. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, those suffering from addiction will continue to struggle. Maybe you or someone you know is struggling with addiction. How can you be certain, and once you know, what can be done about it?
WHAT IS ADDICTION AND HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE IT?
Addiction is a compulsory, repetitive use of a substance, such as alcohol or drugs, which has detrimental effects on a person’s life. Repeated use of these substances can alter your brain chemistry, resulting in dependence and eventual addiction.
Someone who struggles with addiction might exhibit changes in appearance and behavior, including becoming focused on acquiring more of that substance, neglecting their responsibilities or lashing out at others. These effects are caused by both internal and external factors.
PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL CAUSES
Substance abuse and addiction are detrimental to both physical and emotional health. Addictive substances affect brain chemistry, altering and triggering the pleasure and reward portions of the brain by creating an influx of dopamine, a chemical responsible for pleasant sensations. The brain’s chemistry changes to accommodate these sudden bursts, creating new needs.
Environment also plays an important part in the formation of addictions. Family status, pressure from friends or abuse—whether physical, sexual, or substance—can lead a person down the path of addiction.
Addiction may also be influenced by stress when substance abuse becomes a means of coping with emotional turmoil. The rush of pleasure associated with drug use provides momentary relief, and no longer is the person concerned with the difficulty of their situation. Of course, none of these effects come without consequences.
EFFECTS OF ADDICTION
Dealing with pain or stress in this way might cause momentary relief, but the negative consequences outweigh any temporary pleasure. The need for fulfillment through these substances becomes a significant part of a person’s life, often to the exclusion of other people or responsibilities. Jobs, families and friends fall by the wayside as the addiction becomes the primary focus of their life.
TREATMENTS FOR ADDICTION
The struggle with addiction is real, but that struggle does not need to be endured alone. Many options are available for treatment, including medical detoxification, medications and behavioral therapy.
Detox is important for the recovery process. Though withdrawal can be difficult, a complete detox is vital to recovery, and with proper medical assistance, withdrawal symptoms can be safely managed.
As drug or alcohol abuse can alter a person’s brain chemistry, use of medications can help bring brain chemistry back to normal functioning. These properly prescribed medications can ease the transition back into healthy living.
Where detox and medications deal with the physical symptoms of addiction, therapy is important for the emotional aspects. Therapy helps create new habits and a fresh outlook, which may help to prevent relapses, while also inspiring better relationships with friends and family. Having people around you to support you is vital to recovering from addiction.
Addiction impacts the physical and emotional health of those who suffer from it and of those around them, but there is hope. Treatment is important and available. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, you are not alone.