Despite the fact that it may not always seem so, drug abuse and addiction are extremely complicated problems that can thoroughly ruin an individual’s physical, mental and emotional health, relationships and life. Many individuals who suffer from these problems often seem willing to do anything in order to continue obtaining and using drug substances, even if it means selling off all their possessions, destroying their family relationships and even committing criminal acts.
While it rarely appears to be the case, the truth is that most individuals who are struggling with the problems of drug abuse or addiction are desperate to be free of these problems. The difficulty lies in the fact that they don’t know how to achieve sobriety, and they may even believe that it’s an impossible dream. Friends and family members may try to present their loved one with well-intentioned but naive advice such as “Just quit” or “You just need to show some willpower” or other similar statements. Unfortunately, these friends and family fail to realize that if it were this easy to overcome drug abuse and addiction problems, few individuals would willingly continue to give up their health, relationships and life for drugs. The problem is that it is not that easy to take back the control one has slowly and steadily turned over to drugs, and it takes far more than willpower or simple desire to meet with success in recovery.
Why Drug Use Begins
Individuals turn to drug use when they are confronted by some undesirable situation in their life that they feel drugs will help them either escape from or resolve. It doesn’t actually matter if this situation is financial stress, relationship difficulties or physical pain, the bottom line is that the individual sees in drugs a solution to their problems.
Drugs are chemical substances that interact and interfere with the normal functions of the human body. In doing this, they can suppress undesirable sensations, disconnect the individual from their present environment and even stimulate desirable sensations. This provides the individual with some measure of relief, which causes them to believe that drugs are helpful and their undesirable situation is at least temporarily resolved. This very mechanism is the exact reason why drugs are so dangerous – they give the apparency of helping with one undesirable situation while they are slowly creating a host of new problems for the individual.
One of the problems with drug use is that an individual has to continue their drug use in order to continue receiving the desired benefits, especially since few individuals take the time to face and resolve the underlying situation that drove them into drug use in the first place. After all, that is usually the whole point of drug use – the individual cannot or will not face and handle the underlying situation, they simply want to suppress or escape from it. This means that an individual who is trying to escape from financial stress through alcohol consumption will decide that they have to consume alcohol every single day in order to escape from the financial stress that persists every single day. Unfortunately, this drives them into the next problem caused by drug use: tolerance.
Drug tolerance occurs when the individual no longer experiences the same desired effects through the same amount of drug use. Since this pushes him into facing the underlying situations he was trying so hard to avoid, the solution to drug tolerance is usually to increase one’s drug intake, either in volume or frequency, sometimes both. When the individual becomes tolerant of that new volume or frequency, they once again increase their drug intake. Some individuals will even switch to more potent drug substances or more dangerous ingestion methods in order to force the desired highs they once experienced.
When an individual becomes dependent upon drug use, it no longer matters whether they desire to take these substances and how often. They may not even recall the original underlying situations that drove them into drug use, they just honestly feel that they cannot possibly live without drug substances. Their “normal” state of existence is so uncomfortable physically that the individual feels they must take drugs just to function and survive each day. While they may not admit it openly to others, they usually desire to be free from these substances, they just don’t know how to make it so.
Determining if Drug Abuse or Addiction is Occurring
In some cases an individual is aware of their drug abuse and addiction problems and their need for help, and they will actually reach out for this help from others. In most cases, however, the individual is blind to the full extent of their drug problems, is embarrassed by their inability to handle these problems themselves, is guilty about the damaging effects their drug use is having on their own and others’ lives, or just genuinely believes they cannot live without drugs, and they will deny and hide their problems from others who wish to help them. For this reason, it can be very helpful to know some of the key signs of drug abuse and addiction, including:
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Poor personal hygiene and appearance
- Aggressive behavior toward others, always starting fights
- Untrustworthy behavior, and constant broken promises
- Isolation from others
- Dishonesty regarding one’s whereabouts and activities
- Stealing from, lying to and deceiving others, including family members and friends
- Vehemently denying one’s drug use
- Marked changes in mood and behavior
- Sudden and constant health issues
When an individual is displaying the signs of drug abuse and addiction and refuses to admit they have a problem or that they need help, family members and friends may need to intervene and get the individual into the rehabilitation treatment they desperately need.
Phases of Successful Treatment
In order for an individual to successfully and completely handle their drug abuse and addiction problems, they have to address and resolve all of the physical, mental and emotional causes and effects of their drug use. In order to do this, they must participate in the following phases of successful treatment:
- Detoxification. One of the first and most important steps to successful recovery from drug abuse and addiction is to withdraw and detox from drug substances, allowing the individual to establish the foundation upon which they can build strong physical health for the future.
- Counseling. Once the individual has resolved the immediate physical effects of drug use they must then address the mental and emotional causes and effects of drug use. It can be difficult to confront the very emotions that may have driven the individual to escape to drug use in the first place, which is why a professional, experienced counselor is so valuable.
- Drug education. Even after suffering through drug abuse and addiction for some time, few individuals actually understand what these substances are and how they affect the human body. Drug education can arm the individual with the truth, giving them one more reason to achieve and maintain their sobriety far into the future.
- Life skills education. Whatever an individual’s specific reason for turning to drug use, it is safe to say that if they possessed the skills and abilities to handle any difficult or challenging situation that arose in their life, they probably wouldn’t turn to drug use. It follows then, that full recovery includes arming the individual with the skills and abilities that will allow them to maintain their sobriety long into the future.
- Aftercare. However thorough rehabilitation treatment programs may be, they cannot predict every single difficulty the individual may encounter when they work to transition back into their normal life environments and routines. An individual who encounters too many challenges and difficulties while still early in their recovery may feel they have no choice but to relapse into drug use. Aftercare is designed to help individuals move smoothly from rehabilitation treatment back into their normal life environments and routines, without relapsing into drug use if things get tough. There are a wide variety of different aftercare services that can be provided to an individual, based on their own specific needs.
Once an individual has completed all phases of effective rehabilitation treatment they should feel confident about living a healthy, happy future. This does not mean it will always be easy for them, but they should feel certain that they have the skills and abilities to take on life without returning to drug use again in the future.
Solving Drug Abuse and Addiction
There is no doubt that drug abuse and addiction are complex problems that take time, dedication and discipline to successfully resolve. Furthermore, what works very well to help one individual permanently resolve their drug abuse and addiction problems may not work so well to help another individual permanently resolve their drug abuse and addiction problems. This does not mean, though, that these problems cannot be resolved or can only occasionally be resolved. Individuals who participate in treatment programs that are designed to meet their own specific needs and truly address and resolve each and every aspect of their addiction problems will be able to meet with great success in their recovery.
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