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Substance Addiction

Substance Addiction 

Substance addiction, also known as drug addiction, is a progressive disease that makes people lose control of the use of some drugs despite their harmful consequences. Even though they want to quit, even though they know this addiction is life-threatening, it still becomes impossible for them to cease use of the substance. 

A critical component of substance addiction is that the person becomes physically dependent on the substance. When a person stops using the substance, it leads to emotional and physical discomfort.

The initial period of withdrawal produces an effect that leads the person to believe they cannot resist taking the drugs again so as to avoid the discomfort and unpleasant feelings associated with stopping.

Initially, when someone starts taking the drugs it provides pleasure, but with time, this pleasure also diminishes and the urge to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal from the substance becomes paramount.

This alters the brain chemistry of the substance user, rendering them completely reliant on the substance. 

Over time, the substance user develops a tolerance, wherein they need larger doses of the substance. Urges to use the substance continue to intensify, and it can begin to feel as though you are consumed with this continuous, destructive cycle.

At Luxe Recovery, we are here to help you back to a healthful life of healing. 

How substance addiction affects you

Humans are biologically motivated to seek pleasure, or rewards. Often these rewards come naturally from events in life, such as spending time with your loved ones, participating in activities that you enjoy, exercise, and spending quality time with your family.

All of these experiences typically send a chemical called dopamine into your brain, which in effect causes you to feel happy. 

When substances are misused, your brain over-releases dopamine upon taking the substance. This causes the substance user’s brain to rely upon this response from the substance, as the release once gained from pleasurable activities becomes insufficient.

Effectively, an imbalance in the user’s brain is created by the substance. This irregular dopamine release alters the substance user’s thinking patterns and behavior.

The imbalance and irregularity initiates the onset of the continuous cycle of taking drugs and feeling pleasure and then having to use drugs again in attempts to capture the original feeling. All of this contributes to the reasoning behind addiction being characterized by healthcare professionals as a “brain disease.”

Many sufferers of addiction experiment with substances willingly and generally without much harm incurred. However, as dependence develops into addiction, the substance user’s functionality becomes exceedingly limited.

All too often, the tragic development of an addiction becomes fatal for the substance user.

What Causes Substance Addiction?

The reasons for the misuse of drugs vary from person to person. Some common underlying reasons include untreated mental health issues, poverty, loss of loved ones or grief, relationship issues, stress, medical conditions, trauma, emotional and/or physical pain, and many others.

A person may be using drugs to escape reality, to forget about the painful past, or not worry about the uncertainties of the future. The reasons vary for everyone. Like many other mental and physical issues, there are genetic and environmental factors which contribute to the onset of substance addiction. 

Genetics

There is continually-mounting evidence that the onset of substance addiction can be influenced by the genes that have been transferred from your parents to you. These traits or genetic factors can speed up or slow down the addiction, and can influence whether the addiction develops in the first place.

Environment  

Research also indicates that one’s environment is a critical factor in whether a substance addiction develops. Environmental factors influencing whether a substance addiction begins include your parents whom you have seen taking drugs, your peer groups, and/or social influence (i.e. “peer pressure”). 

What are the signs and symptoms of Substance Addiction? 

Let’s discuss some of the signs that can help you to determine whether you have substance addiction and if it is time to seek help. 

  • You are having difficulty interacting with people, and you are losing friends and loved ones because of your addiction.
  • Even though you want to stop using the substance, you are still doing it. It is as though you can’t help yourself in this matter, even though it’s harming your life. 
  • You keep taking a medical prescription even when it is no longer required.
  • You are craving more of the substance; you are increasing the doses.
  • You feel unpleasant, dizzy, and ill when you try to stop the drugs. You may feel depressed, lose hunger, or sleep. 
  • You are always thinking about drugs, you cannot concentrate properly, and you are thinking of how it will make you feel.  
  • You cannot set limits. The last time you said to yourself that you would cut back, but this time you are taking even more. 
  • You begin losing interest in almost everything. Even small daily tasks become a big deal for you. 
  • You want drugs in all cases. If you are low on money, you borrow or steal.
  • Your loved ones are not happy with your behavior. You don’t give enough time to them, and you get angry, and frustrated easily.
  • You keep the negative signs and symptoms you notice as a result of your substance use a secret from others. 
  • You no longer have control over what’s happening in your life. Your life is becoming increasingly unmanageable.

Principles of Effective Treatment 

  • A single treatment is not right for everyone, so treatment varies on an individual basis.
  • Effective treatment takes into account the patient’s history and evaluates their needs on an individualized basis.
  • Behavioral therapies, counseling, and holistic methods should be synthesized in order to deliver a whole-person approach to substance addiction treatment.
  • Medication education and monitoring are critical particularly as a patient enters treatment. 
  • The whole-person methodology integrates treatment for any co-occurring disorders or mental health concerns.

Treatments of Drug Addiction

There are different phases and elements which comprise substance addiction treatment. Below we have discussed some of the major elements of treatment. 

Detoxification

Detoxification is the process wherein your body begins to rid itself of the harmful toxins which entered it due to substance consumption. Healthcare professionals monitor you carefully and help in easing you through the detoxification process as seamlessly as possible. 

Medication-assisted therapies (MAT)

MAT refers to the combination of counseling and the use of prescription medications to treat alcohol and opioid addiction. The pharmaceuticals used in MAT balance brain

chemistry, stop alcohol’s and opioids’ euphoric effects, and eliminate physical cravings without the addictive drugs’ side effects.

Behavioral Therapies 

Behavioral therapies have been proven to be quite effective in treatment for substance addiction. Behavioral therapies aim to help the patient to change their behavior related to drug use, develop self-esteem, and build new healthy habits and skills, among more.

Many behavioral therapy modalities are implemented in substance addiction treatment, including the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy: in which the patient is made aware of the situations and contexts in which they most likely to relapse. During cognitive behavioral therapy, patients are taught healthy coping techniques to employ during situations in which troubling feelings arise. 
  • Motivational Interviewing:  Motivational interviewing is a behavioral therapy method in which the practitioner aids in mediating behavioral change by identifying and addressing the motivations underlying substance-using behavior through the use of exploratory questions. 
  • Multidimensional family therapy: This is for the patient as well as his family. It is done to make aware of how drugs are impacting the lives of patients and those around them and improve the overall family functioning. 

What medications are available to help with substance use disorder?

Medications are frequently used for the effective treatment of substance use disorder. Some medicines for opioid addiction that are used include Methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Commonly prescribed medications for alcohol addiction include Naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram.

Risks for substance use disorder 

Misusing drugs can lead to different mental health issues and in some cases, the mental health illnesses exist prior to the intake of drugs. The combination of existing mental illness and increased misuse of substances can often lead to the worsening of both conditions. 

Substance Use Addiction in the US 

In the United States alone, it has been reported that nearly 1 in every 10 individuals suffers from substance addiction. All too often substance addiction, including excessive alcohol consumption, results in fatality for the substance user.

However, research indicates that more than 20 million adults in the US enter and sustain recovery after treatment. 

A note from Luxe Recovery 

Substance addiction is a long-term disease but with the right treatment and counseling, you can recover. Different treatments and different therapies work for different people, and it is imperative that your treatment experience is tailored to your needs as an individual. We are here to help. Please reach out to us, so we can begin your journey together and aid you in living healthily and peacefully, and becoming the best version of yourself.

Stay Happy, Stay Healthy! 

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