Anyone that is suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and currently attempting to beat these unhealthy and potentially deadly habits are in for a difficult journey, but the results will be life-altering. Even a few weeks or months of a serious addiction can be extremely damaging to the body, and the sooner that one finds effective treatment, the healthier and longer life they will lead. This can be especially difficult for family members or loved ones that would like to help someone near to them that is struggling with an addiction. For addicts and their loved ones, here is a closer look at just how dangerous these addictions can be and a few steps that can be taken in order to break free of their physical or mental dependence on drugs or alcohol.
Understanding Drug and Alcohol Addiction
In addition to alcohol, there are more illicit drugs than ever that an individual may find themselves struggling with. Even many legal medications can become highly addictive after being prescribed by a medical professional. Due to pop culture and influence from the media, friends, and family members, an addict could go for months or even years without knowing that they are dependent on a substance. This is why the first step for addicts and their loved ones is to understand the general phases that an addict will go through. While every individual is slightly different, some of the basic steps include:
- The experimental stage
- Regular use
- Risky Use/Abuse
- Complete Addiction/Dependency
What everyone should understand is that these stages are only a loose guideline, and anyone could skip one or more stages. These stages can also take any amount of time and a drug and alcohol addiction could develop in as little as just a few uses of the substance. Others may find themselves only using alcohol or drugs semi-regularly for years on end until they finally move into the risky stage of consumption.
Signs of Addiction
This is another important facet of an alcohol or drug addiction as addicts, family members, and their loved ones could experience any number of signs, or none at all. In fact, there is an entire sub-section of addicts referred to as high-functioning or functional addicts that become exceptionally adept at hiding their addiction from those that they love. One of the first signs to look for is the neglecting of one’s social and professional obligations. Those that are addicted to drugs or alcohol may begin to fall behind with work or refrain from showing up at family events. Unfortunately, some addicts may remain successful in their professional and social life while carrying out their addiction.
Physical signs are another common place to look and these chemicals will eventually take a toll on the human body. Many times, the addict will dramatically change their sleep patterns by either sleeping much more or much less than they previously did. Others may find their appearance slowly change as they refrain from basic hygiene practices such as showering or brushing their teeth.
Each of these signs change from addict to addict, and there is only one manner in which the addict or those close to them can confirm that their use of a substance is addiction. When the drugs or alcohol begin to negatively impact the individual’s life, and the individual recognized this negative impact and continues to carry out their habit, they are then addicted to the substance. This negative impact may include minor damage to their body, engaging in risky behavior, or completely removing themselves from society.
Changes In Brain Chemistry
One of the most devastating effects of a substance addiction is how the addict’s brain chemistry will begin to change. Most drugs will completely alter the manner in which the brain and body produce various chemicals such as serotonin or endorphins. These chemicals are naturally created by the brain and they give the person feelings of happiness, contentedness, drive, and energy. Over time, outside chemicals will trick the body into producing too much or too little of these chemicals and could permanently change brain one’s brain chemistry. This is why it is important for addicts to seek out assistance as quickly as possible in order to reduce the affect that alcohol and drugs will permanently have on their body.
Approaching An Addict
Approaching an individual about their addiction is a very sensitive and potentially volatile situation. Those that have developed an addiction may feel as if they do not have a problem or they are being unfairly targeted. In the most extreme situations, violence can even take place. For those that feel as if they cannot approach their loved one alone, an addiction or intervention specialist may be the best option for these individuals.
These specialists understand just how difficult these situations can be and they have been trained to deal with all types of addicts. They can coach family and friends on how to approach their loved ones and what to expect. This is often referred to as an intervention which is simply a catchall term that involves approaching an individual about their addiction. These scenarios will generally be about expressing love for the individual and offering them all of the support that they need.
Beating An Addiction
There are a nearly an unlimited amount of methods and options when it comes to beating an drug or alcohol addiction and there is no single program that is right for everyone. Some of the most popular treatments and steps include:
- Group Therapy
- One-on-One Counseling
- Art Therapy
- Physical Detox
- Inpatient Treatment Centers
- Outpatient Treatment Programs
- Holistic Detox Options
Before undergoing any form of therapy or treatment for an addiction, it is first important to speak with a trained specialist. After the body has developed a chemical addiction to a substance, a detox period may need to take place. The detox period is one of the most dangerous moments during this treatment process and can be especially devastating for more powerful drugs or even long-term alcohol abuse. Addicts could undergo extreme highs and lows and may even have suicidal thoughts.
Once the chemical detox has taken place, if one was needed, it is time to begin taking a look at what long-term options are available to the addict. Many programs begin with a short period between 30 and 90 days in which they will undergo intensive therapy. Inpatient programs often provide a number of services including one-on-one counseling, group therapy, exercise programs, and healthy meal plans. Others may benefit from outpatient programs that involve a support system of family members, friends, or other individuals that are going through a similar problem.
With nearly 10 percent of all adults within the United States currently in need of treatment for illicit drugs or alcohol, this problem is more pervasive than ever. No one should ever feel as if they need to hit rock bottom in order to seek out treatment and there are more options than ever when it comes to a quick, efficient, and long-term solution to their addiction. Those that refrain from immediately seeking out assistance will increase their risk of life-altering and even life-threatening scenarios.