Do you or someone you know have a problem with drugs or alcohol? Has life become unmanageable? You should be aware of the differences between abuse and addiction. Because drug abuse and addiction disrupt so many aspects of your life, treatment is not simple. Understanding drug abuse and addiction and effective treatment approaches can better help a user or addict get their lives on track.
Substance abuse involves excessive and repeated use of a drug in order to illicit pleasure or escape from problems or reality, in spite of negative consequences. Abusing alcohol and other drugs leads to serious health problems, criminal activity, car crashes, and lost productivity in the workplace (H, W.C., 2002). Commonly abused substances include marijuana, stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine, opiates, hallucinogens, inhalants, steroids, prescription drugs, and alcohol. Oftentimes when users abuse substances, they are trying to escape reality or their problems. In doing so, many users create new problems. Whether they are legal, work-related, family or relationship related, or to their health, a substance abuser continues to use regardless of the consequences that their habitual use is causing them.
Addiction or dependence can be physical, psychological, or both. Physical addiction refers to the physiological consequences of drug use and is typified by withdrawal symptoms when the user stops taking the drug and tolerance, which is the need to increase the amount used to achieve the initial “high.” Psychological dependence refers to the subjective feelings that the user requires in order to maintain feelings of pleasure or well-being. For example, the user feels he/she needs the substance to numb the pain of an unpleasant experience. The key components that separate a user, who is abusing drugs and an addict, are the presence of withdrawal when the user stops taking the drug and builds up a tolerance to the substance. Addiction is rarely an acute illness, such as an infection or broken bone. For most addicts, it is a chronic, relapsing disorder, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. For many chronic substance abusers, poverty, homelessness and repeated incarceration are their way of life (Miller,1998). To treat addiction, one must seek treatment as if treating a chronic illness.
What does one do when their life has become unmanageable? Recovery from addiction can be a hard road, and for many it will seem impossible. Thankfully there are many people and organizations in the community that can help. Obviously the first step is to make the decision to stop using. For many this can be the hardest step of all. After all, most addicts do not want to go through the discomfort of withdrawals. Talking to a family member or someone the addict trusts is a good idea when making a decision of this magnitude. Remember, the addict did not get into this predicament in one day, so easy does it. One sure way to get some answers is to seek the help of a professional. Counseling can be a great benefit in finding a path to sobriety. Many find their church to fill them with purpose and the support they need. Twelve-step programs such as NA and AA have been helping addicts for many years. No matter how an addict recovers, the most important part of any treatment is active participation.
Substance abuse and addiction affect more than the user. Controlled substances as well as alcohol when abused or not, can cause legal problems, relationship and family turmoil, physical and mental health complications, and in far too many cases, death. When the addict tires of hurting him/herself and all those who love them, there are many ways to seek help.
H, W. C. (2002). Bridging the gap between substance abuse practice and research: The national treatment plan initiative. Journal of Drug Issues,
32(3), 757-768. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/208840151?accountid=41759
Miller, J. S. (1998). A time for everything: Changing attitudes and approaches to reducing substance abuse. Canadian Medical Association.Journal, 159(5), 485-7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204786799?accountid=41759