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The Ultimate Guide to Drug Addiction: What It Is, the Symptoms, and the Treatments Available.

August 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Addiction is a serious and complex disease that affects the functioning of a person’s body and brain. Addiction can also cause serious damage to relationships, families, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. Among the most serious symptoms of addiction are failed attempts to quit, preoccupation with using, tolerance and withdrawal. The good news is that it is possible to prevent, treat, and manage addiction through the collaborated efforts of healthcare professionals, family members, and peers.

Drug addiction and abuse vary, and therefore, it’s imperative to know what the difference is between these two. Alcohol and drug abuse is often a mild problem which is defined with a few symptoms of addiction. If you are a person who abuses drugs or alcohol, you’ll experience severe consequences like overdoses, accidents, crime, violence, suicide, and school problems. A lot of individuals experience abuses problems, but still find it difficult to change or stop their pattern of use without moving to addiction.

On the other hand, the most severe kind of addiction is usually a physical, chronic disease that requires intensive, long-term treatment. Similar to other serious illnesses, those who suffer from serious addiction are often sick. Moreover, addicts experience other diseases which could result in their death.

What are the Symptoms of Addiction?

Drug and alcohol addicts can exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Physical Changes

In addition to transforming how the brain operates, addiction also creates some physical changes. Family members and friends of an addict may begin noticing that their loved one exhibits unexplained shaking or tremors. They may also notice perspiration to a higher degree, increased anxiety, vomiting, and insomnia. Drug addicts and alcoholics also suffer from periods of blackouts and these kinds of incidents are identifiable since the person cannot explain what transpired at a specific time.

Apart from that, addicts may experience tremors and chills, but they may also depict other physical symptoms such as clenched teeth, muscle cramps, hallucinations, and dilated pupils. Another physical change is the unexplained weight loss which often characterizes addiction.

Those who notice these changes should not attribute them to a “phase,” but must take the necessary actions to ensure the problem is handled. In some cases, an addict may exhibit more of these changes at the same time, a clear sign that serious intervention is needed.

  1. Abdicating Responsibilities

When addiction takes control of one’s body, it also impacts their psychological views about responsibilities and duty accomplishment. The reason for this is that the brain of an addict is usually overwhelmed by the cravings for alcohol, drugs, and sex. For that reason, these cravings become the driving force behind what the addicts do.

As a result of their cravings, the addicts start losing focus of their responsibilities in life. Students, for instance, may stop attending their classes or complete their assignments because their minds are fixated on something else. For addicts who are employed, their problems become evident when they start going to work late or fail to go entirely because they are suffering from the withdrawal symptoms. They may also be too tired to go to work.

Parents who are addicts may start neglecting their children, exposing them to unnecessary danger. The abdication of responsibilities is often a gradual process but it deepens with time.

  1. Cessation

People who are addicted to drug and alcohol cannot even bear the thought of doing with them, let alone doing with them. One way to determine how important drugs or alcohol has become to you is to consider living without them. In such an instance, your physical or emotional response will be quite instructive. If you panic and anticipate pain, then you certainly know that the drugs and substances have a hold on you.

  1. Excessive Consumption

Although it may sound obvious, it’s unsurprising to learn that addicts in most cases don’t recognize their addiction because in most cases, they are in denial. That is why it is recommended that those close to an addicted person are able to recognize their excessive consumption. For instance, alcoholics cannot hide their drinking because of the frequency at which such behaviors occur. The most important thing about addiction is that it manifests in ways noticeable ways and it will be almost impossible to miss these symptoms.

However, the problem is that most addicts will not accept they have an addiction problem because they will attribute their excessive consumption to anxiety, stress, work problems, or problems at home, but will never accept that they have an uncontrollable dependence on alcohol. In fact, addicts will try to make other people feel like they are being judgmental or they are overreacting. This is a mental buffer which helps them fend off any inquiries into their behaviors.

  1. Addiction is Dependence

Uncontrollable dependence to drugs or substances is one of the most significant characteristics of addiction. An individual who is addicted to alcohol and drugs cannot do without them. For alcoholics, it’s impossible for them to stop at one or two drinks due to their overwhelming desire to take alcohol beyond the ability of their body to metabolize what they consume. Whether it’s an addiction to sex, nicotine, drugs, or alcohol, the commonality of dependence has its basis on the fact that the addict cannot stop their behavior.

The brain understands that the behavior is mentally and physically destructive, but that same brain craves alcohol, drugs, nicotine, or sex, and it’s immune to logic or reason. The biological basis for addiction is connected to the brain’s mesolimbic pathway that is made up of neurons which create and unleash dopamine when a person engages in behavior or performs an action that makes him or her feel good.

Dopamine conveys pleasure sensations which are enhanced through the use of drugs, sex, and alcohol consumption. As a result of this, addicts develop an obsessive need to relieve the feelings of pleasure, thus making them seek out stimuli to create the sensation. In no time, the need for the stimuli increases since the person craves for more pleasure and satisfaction that will never be sufficient.

Drug, sex, alcohol, or the dependency level of any other substance often depends on the impact the stimuli has on the body of an individual. Some people get high on small quantities of drugs while there are some who will require greater quantities to achieve a similar euphoria.

What are the Treatments to Addiction?

Addiction treatment programs work differently for different individuals. The good thing about these programs is that they can be customized according to the specific situation of an individual. The most effective treatment programs for addicts include the following:

  1. Inpatient Rehab

Addiction recovery center can either be inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient centers provide treatment programs that are structured to address all facets of a person’s addiction. With this treatment option, the patient is placed in a substance-free facility to obtain medical care and therapeutic support around-the-clock. These establishments are the best for those battling chronic addiction problems and people who suffer from co-occurring behavioral or psychological disorder.

  1. Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient facilities also offer comprehensive care for addicts as they provide many effective treatment therapies similar to those offered by inpatient rehabs. Nevertheless, this option makes it possible for patients to stay in their homes during the treatment and recovery process. As a result, outpatient rehab allows the patient to continue with their normal lives of caring for their loved ones while still receiving treatment.

It’s imperative to remember that outpatient treatment facilities are not situated within the residential area; for that reason, patients are at a risk of encountering factors that could challenge their sobriety. As a result, these kinds of facilities are best suited for people with mild problems and those with a disciplined approach to recovery.

  1. Drug and Alcohol Detox

Drugs and substance detoxification is a safer withdrawal technique for those suffering from the addiction problem. Detoxification is usually the first step used in treating people who suffer from moderate to severe addiction.

Detoxing from the use of drugs may require the use of medication-assisted therapy to lessen the effects of withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are often tapered down to a point where the patient no longer depends on their use.

  1. Sober Living Homes

These facilities operate as a link between the inpatient centers and returning to normal life. The sober living homes are an excellent option for those in recovery who require some additional time to enhance their recovery process and reinforce the knowledge acquired in rehab. These facilities help in strengthening the new healthy habits of those in recovery as they reside in a structured environment.

  1. Treatment Medications

During treatment and detox, patients can be prescribed medications that will help in their recovery process. These prescribed medications may be used for various purposes such as managing withdrawal symptoms, treating co-occurring disorders, or reducing cravings. Medications used in treating addiction are usually taken as one undergoes a comprehensive treatment program.

Final Word

There are no shortcuts you can take when it comes to addiction treatment. Treatment is a long process which requires discipline and vigilance. If you are suffering from an addiction problem, you can visit an Addiction Recovery Center today and get the help you need. Although addiction is a disease, it’s possible to emerge victorious with commitment, dedication, and an effective treatment program.

Staff Writer; Shelia Love

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