Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 12:16 pm
Are you one of the many people who developed drug addiction? Does a loved one suffer from drug abuse? If you answered one of the above questions with a ‘yes’, you know how hard life can be in the grip of drugs.
Overcoming addiction may seem like an impossible achievement, but countless people have managed to escape the vicious circle of drug abuse. You can be next.
Overcoming addiction is indeed possible. Read on to find out how to stop abusing drugs.
Understanding Drug Addiction
To fix a problem you have to understand it first. So, what is drug addiction?
In simple terms, drug addiction is any chronic disorder where the sufferer has a compulsive urge to seek and use drugs despite the adverse consequences.
Drug Addiction as a Disease
Drug addiction is in fact classified as a brain disorder because it affects multiple brain functions, including:
- Decision making
And several others. The changes in the above functions may last for years after stopping the drugs, which is what causes many former addicts to relapse.
So, drug addiction is just like any other disease. It is dangerous, but it is also preventable and treatable. However, if drug addiction is left untreated, it can ruin a person’s life.
If you or a loved one has a drug addiction, know that it is not a character flaw. It is a medical problem just like depression, diabetes, or a broken leg.
Many people think that drug addicts lack willpower or common decency to stop their drug abuse. This is wrong. Nobody can just choose to stop their drug addiction, just like they can’t choose to stop suffering from diabetes or depression.
So, drug addiction cannot be overcome by sheer will alone. As we will see below, you need to understand the challenges and have a clear plan. Recovery is possible, but it takes time and effort. However, the reward is nothing less than your life itself.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
You may think the causes of drug addiction are obvious, but that is not often the case. People can take drugs for many reasons. Some drug use is even justified. Prescription drugs improve and even save the lives of millions of people.
So, what causes people to take illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs?
In the end, drug abuse boils down to a number of key reasons.
Teenagers and young adults are often caught in the trap of drugs through social pressure. Many people try drugs for the first time as part of a dare, or when trying to impress their peers. Sometimes, drug use is seen as trendy.
Another common cause among younger addicts is curiosity. Young adults are more likely to try drugs just to see how it is, and to show how “open-minded” they can be.
Such people rarely have the intention to start doing drugs. They just want to get a new experience. However, some drugs like crack cocaine are so addictive, that a single use can get you hooked.
To Avoid Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
People who feel social pressure, anxiety, and depression will resort to drugs to cover their problem. The intense euphoria from using drugs can numb all physical and emotional pain. Some drugs give you a surge of self-confidence, while others calm you down.
People who feel powerless might use cocaine to feel stronger. People who feel anxiety may use opioids to relax and feel happy.
To Get High
It is true that drugs can give people some of the most intense pleasures known to science. The initial pleasure when the drug first kicks in can feel incredibly good. However, this never lasts long and can only be sustained by more drugs. This is what causes the vicious circle of addiction for many people.
To Improve Performance and Focus
Some people, and especially athletes, may resort to drugs in order to boost their athletic performance. Students and academics may also do drugs to improve their academic focus. Such users often resort to prescription drugs.
Your Brain on Drugs
Most people will try drugs for the first time voluntarily. However, once the drugs have affected a person’s brain, it is impossible to resist the urge to take more. The brain’s chemistry changes as a result of drug use, and this is what causes addiction at a biological level.
Most illegal drugs interact with the brain’s reward system. They often do so by triggering the creation of dopamine, the hormone responsible for feeling happy. This is the way our brains tell us to repeat a certain behavior. If we tamper with the reward system, we are causing our brains to reward us for harmful behaviors.
As a person uses more and more of a certain drug, their brain adapts to feelings of euphoria from that drug. This adaptation makes them feel less and less satisfied with taking the same dose. This is known as drug tolerance.
Drug tolerance means that you need to take more and more of the same drug to get the same feelings of euphoria. In the meantime, the brain becomes numb to all other forms of pleasure, such as food, sex, socialization, and resting, which helps reinforce drug abuse as the only form of pleasure that the brain responds to.
The Vicious Circle of Relapsing
Since drug addiction affects the brain, it interferes with a person’s judgment and self-control. This means that people trying to stop their addiction will be prone to relapse and do drugs again.
Drug addiction is a relapsing disease that needs a complex, multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
If you try to stop your addiction by sheer will alone, chances are you will fail due to the nature of drug addiction. People in recovery can still relapse. Relapsing doesn’t mean that you should stop trying, or that your treatment is not working. It is just a sign that your doctors might have to revise your treatment.
So, what to do if you find yourself addicted to drugs? First of all, don’t lose hope, because drug addiction is manageable and treatable, as we will see below.
How to Overcome Drug Addiction
If you or a loved one currently suffer from drug addiction, don’t lose hope. As we have seen above, addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that causes a compulsion to seek drugs. The good news is that it is not an incurable disease, though the risk of relapsing can make it seem very hard to overcome.
Let’s take a closer look at the steps to overcome your drug addiction.
Accepting Your Problem
Everything starts with understanding and acceptance. You can’t hope to fix your drug addiction if you don’t admit it to yourself. Embrace your problem and start working towards solving it.
Since you are reading this article, you have already taken the first step, so don’t give up! You’re on the right track for a new beginning.
Decide to Make a Change Now
Everyone knows that drugs are bad for them. However, it is hard to decide to make a change here and now. The dark nature of drug addiction causes us to feel uncertain and procrastinate when it comes to deciding to change our harmful habits.
Understanding What is at Stake
Getting sober means changing your life in more ways than you can imagine. In order to get rid of your addiction, you will have to change the way you handle problems, the way you think about yourself, and the way you spend your time every day.
This may sound like a lot, but without the changes, you can’t take back your life. In order to understand what is at stake, you should try to track how much and how often you use. This will help you realize how much your addiction governs your life.
Set Specific Goals
Now that you know what is at stake, you need to set clear goals. You want to get rid of your addiction.
So, when do you start? How much time do you allow yourself before trying another treatment? Do you go cold turkey, or start by limiting your drug use?
Start Changing Habits
Even before committing to recovery you can start with the small steps. Change habits that might be contributing to your addiction. Remove reminders and avoid social interactions with people who can drag you back into drug addiction.
Ask Friends and Family for Support
If you feel like overcoming your drug addiction is hard, remember that you are never alone. Enlist the help of friends and family to support you in your effort. Your friends and family can help you change your habits and give you guidance to avoid relapsing.
Drug Addiction Treatment Options
Now that you have decided to make a change and enlisted the help of friends and family, it is time to consider your treatment options.
Different drugs require different treatments, but all drug addictions have some characteristics in common. We have seen above how drugs affect the chemistry of the brain and our behavior.
All drug addiction treatment options deal with certain core elements of addiction. The most common include:
- Drug detoxification
- Behavioral therapy
- Follow-up treatment
- Long-term care
Detoxification is the first step, and usually the most painful one. Getting the body rid of the drugs can cause a range of side effects. That is why for many drug addictions, doctors prescribe certain medications to help ease the transition to sobriety. One of the most common ones is methadone, which doctors prescribe to opioid addicts.
Behavioral therapy encompasses counseling, group sessions, and other forms of psychological support that can help you identify the cause of your addiction and avoid relapsing. Behavioral therapy also includes follow-up sessions to check on your progress.
Finally, treatment often includes long-term checks and ongoing care to avoid relapsing and make sure you are living a fulfilling and satisfying life.
Drug Treatment Programs
There are several types of treatment programs, from day treatment to full residential care. With residential treatment, you will be living in a specialized facility and receive dedicated care. Residential treatment can last up to six months.
There are also sober houses and communities where you get to live with other people fighting drug addiction. This gives recovering addicts a safe and friendly community with no possibility to relapse.
You can also opt for outpatient treatment. With outpatient options, you spend your day at a facility but don’t stay there overnight. You return each morning for your activities and checkups.
With day treatment, you will live at home but visit a hospital or facility each day. This will substitute for your daily work, as daily treatment requires up to 8 hours of your time each day.
Finding the Treatment You Deserve and Overcoming Addiction
Overcoming addiction is possible. Here at Addiction Treatment Services, we help you find personalized rehabilitation for you or your loved one.
There many addiction treatment centers across the country that can give you the recovery experience you deserve, but it’s not always easy to pick the right one for you.
Sometimes making the first step is the hardest thing. We are here to help you start your journey to recovery and a healthier, happier life free of drug addiction.
At Addiction Treatment Services, we understand your needs and can help with addiction treatment, intervention, and support. Contact us today and we will help you find the recovery center that best matches your needs.