Information About Addiction and Treatment
When you hear the word “addiction,” a lot of images may perhaps cross your mind. You may see a drunk person falling down to the ground. It may also remind you about a recent news report regarding a disabled teen who got hit by a drunk driver or an employee who was imprisoned because of money swindling. Most of us know someone whose life is affected by addiction. We also know that addiction is an extremely serious problem and can be life threatening. However, behind the widely held agreements regarding addiction are the many questions. How big exactly are the addiction problems? What are the types of addiction problems? What are the treatment options for addiction problems? Read below the information about addiction and treatment and be informed and learn how to manage addiction problems.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a condition which results from a person’s actions that are initially pleasurable, but later become compulsive, interfering in his/her ordinary life responsibilities such as health, work, and relationships. These actions may include ingesting a substance such as drugs or alcohol or engaging in an activity such as gambling. In most cases, the addicted person is not aware that his/her behavior is already out of control and causes problems to others and himself/herself.
Types of Addiction
Opiates are a group of drugs which are derived from Asian poppy seeds that have high potential for abuse. The Opiate family includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, opium, morphine, and heroin. Opiate drugs that are used for prescription medication are typically administered in pill forms. On the other hand, heroin comes in a powdered form which is typically dissolved in water and taken through an injection.
Prolonged use of opiates leads to nerve damage in the brain, which stops the body from producing endorphins. Endogenous opiates or endorphins are natural painkillers which initially mask the pain. Without endorphins, the body loses the ability to stop or manage the pain. The deterioration of the cells that help reduce pain leads to the physical dependence on an external source, which is the opiates. Eventually, this leads to opiate addiction.
Accordingly, the Federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration reported that there are about 400,000 Americans who have used heroin and about 11.2 million Americans who have abused the prescription opiates and used these drugs for purposes which are non-medical.
Alcohol addiction is a compulsive craving for an intoxicating liquid which is obtained from fermented fruit or grains. This type of liquid includes hard liquors, wine, and beer. When a person hits the alcohol addiction stage, he/she will experience adverse symptoms, which include tolerance to alcohol, spending more time in alcohol-related activities, persistence of alcohol use, loss of control of alcohol consumption, and withdrawal symptoms. The World Health Organization reported that there are about 140 million people worldwide who suffer from alcohol dependence.
A chronic and often relapsing brain disease, prescription drug addiction is a compulsive drug use and craving despite the harmful consequences to the concerned person and the people around him/her. This leads to changes in the brain’s functions and structure. Over time, these changes in the brain affect a person’s ability to make the right decisions and lose their sense of self-control. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants. Statistics show that nearly 20% of the entire U.S. population have misused or abused prescription drugs.
Behavioral addiction is a pattern of behavior which follows a cycle that is similar to substance addiction. This starts with experiencing pleasure when engaged in a certain behavior and eventually seeking that behavior out. Initially, it may be a person’s way of enhancing his/her experience in life, and over time becomes a way of coping with stress. When the seeking and engaging in a behavior is ritualized or becomes more frequent, it significantly changes a person’s way of living. A person who suffers from behavioral addiction experiences cravings or urges to engage in a behavior which intensifies until he/she engages in the behavior again despite the negative consequences it may cause. This provides a feeling of elation and relief to the individual. Behavioral addiction includes shopping, work, Internet, computer games, exercise, eating, sexual activities, and gambling, among others. It is estimated that there are at least 90% of Americans experiencing soft behavioral addiction in their lives.
Also known as substance dependence, drug addiction is a compulsive need or craving to use drugs to function normally. In most cases, users are not aware that their drug use is already out of control, which causes many problems to themselves and the people around them. Drug addiction includes the use of either legal or illegal drugs. The drug’s potential to cause addiction varies from one person to the other and from one substance to the other. The critical factors which contribute to the development of drug addiction include time, route of administration, pharmacokinetics of the drug, frequency, and dose. Every year, there are more than 15 million Americans who suffer from drug addiction and only a few of them who seek treatment for this condition.
The most commonly abused drugs are categorized into four groups and are known as the drugs of abuse, which include opioids, hallucinogenics, depressants, and stimulants. While each group of drugs has different effects, all of them are damaging to the body if abused. Drug abuse has adverse effects to the body functions, and can even put the user at a fatal risk. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention reported that even though alcohol users are seven times more than the drug users, more people are killed due to drugs. Statistics show that annually, there are more than 20,000 individuals who died due to drug abuse.
Also called COD or co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis is a condition which combines mental illness with a co-morbid substance abuse problem. Psychiatric problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders in tandem with drug or alcohol dependency commonly occur in dual diagnosis. The American Medical Association’s Journal reported that 53% of drug abusers and 37% of alcohol abusers also suffer from at least one severe mental illness. Also, 29% of mentally ill individuals abused either drugs or alcohol.
Research shows that for some individuals, the pleasure and reward centers of the brain which are stimulated by addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine are also triggered by foods that are rich in sugar, fat, and salt. Similar to the addictive drugs, these foods trigger the brain’s “feel-good” chemical called dopamine. The increase of dopamine transmission in the brain makes a person quickly feel the urge to eat again, even if he/she is not hungry. If left untreated, an eating disorder can lead to severe medical conditions such as depression, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, kidney disease, bone deterioration, arthritis, stroke, and the list goes on and on. Statistics show that more than 70 million American adults are addicted to food.
Also known as meth, Methamphetamine has been used as both medicinal and recreational drugs. In the United States, it is an FDA approved drug for treating exogenous obesity and ADHD in both children and adults. Its potential for addiction and abuse is very high due to its euphoric and stimulant properties. Meth activates the psychological reward system through triggering a massive release of doparmine in the brain. Methamphetamine addiction may lead to post-withdrawal syndrome and cardiovascular damage, which can be fatal. According to the federal estimates, there are more than 12 million individuals in the U.S. who have tried Meth and 1.5 million of them are regular users.
A highly addictive drug, heroin is derived from morphine, a chemical obtained from opium poppy seeds. It is a depressant or a downer that affects the brain’s ability to recognize pain. Chronic users develop pulmonary complications, liver disease, cellulite, abscesses, infection of the heart valves and lining, and collapsed veins. Over time, the higher doses lead to drug addiction and dependence. Once the body has adapted to the drug’s presence, withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction will occur if use is stopped or reduced. Withdrawal symptoms may include kicking movements, goose bumps, cold flashes, diarrhea and vomiting, insomnia, muscle and bone pain, restlessness, and drug craving. Sudden withdrawal of heavily dependent users with poor health conditions can be fatal. Statistics show that there are about 9.2 million users of heroin worldwide.
Alcoholism is considered a treatable disease, and there are actually a lot of treatment programs that are available for those alcoholics who are looking for help. Regardless of how an alcoholic knows he/she has alcohol dependency, he or she needs to have a sincere desire to get help before starting any treatment. Basically, alcoholics who are pressured into getting help will rarely succeed.
Once an alcoholic decides to get help, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms, especially those who are chronic and heavy drinkers. Withdrawal symptoms typically occur once the alcoholic suddenly stops drinking. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and to life-threatening symptoms. Some of the symptoms include mild shakes, confusion, convulsions, and hallucinations.
It is best for alcoholics to seek medical consultation before they stop drinking. An average of 95% of alcoholics experience mild withdrawal symptoms, which can be treated by a healthcare provider through an outpatient basis. However, 5% of alcoholics can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. It is ideal for them to be admitted to a hospital or facility which specializes in alcohol rehabilitation and detoxification.
The treatment options offered in drug rehabilitation programs include detoxification treatment, which is abstinence from alcohol drinking in a controlled environment with close monitoring of vital signs and withdrawal symptoms. This option typically ranges from a short-term inpatient hospitalization to a long-term treatment program which would already involve outpatient counseling, as well as therapy.
Drug addiction is a complicated illness. This is characterized by intense and uncontrollable drug cravings in addition to compulsive drug seeking and use, which persists even during times of devastating consequences. The path of drug addiction starts out as a voluntary act of taking drugs. However, as this continues, a person’s ability of choosing whether to use or not to use drugs is compromised. This is the time that seeking, as well as consuming, the drug will become compulsive.
The long-term abuse of drugs can have a tremendous effect on the brain. Basically, this can affect different aspects of the brain like learning and memory, reward and motivation, and the inhibitory control over one’s behavior. Since drug abuse, as well as addiction, has a lot of dimensions and these can disrupt many aspects in a person’s life, the treatment approach for this illness is not a simple one. An effective treatment program for this illness includes several components. Each of these components is directed to a specific aspect of the illness, as well as its consequences. The treatment should help the affected person to stop using drugs and maintaining a drug-free lifestyle. The person must also be able to have a productive functioning in his or her family, in society, and at work.
When it comes to treatment programs in drug addiction, medication combined with cognitive behavioral therapy is considered an important element. Detoxification is the first step for this approach, followed by several drug addiction treatments and finally, relapse prevention. It is also important to ease any withdrawal symptoms that will be experienced. Moreover, preventing any relapse is also considered essential to make sure that the effects of the overall treatment program will be maintained. Basically, the treatment program for drug addiction needs to be tailored according to the needs of the addicted person. The treatment regimen must address all aspects of the person’s life, like medical as well as mental health. The regimen should also have follow up options like support systems, counseling, and cognitive behavioral therapies.
Addiction can come in various forms such as drugs, alcohol, and even activities like shopping, gambling, and sex. Basically, addiction can affect the lives of the people in various ways, and this can destroy a person’s life if help is not sought.
There are different ways to overcome addiction. The initial thing that must be done would be to better understand the concept of addiction and how people perceive this. Basically, most people may think that overcoming addiction is a hard thing to do. However, some people believe that they can make little changes to help ease addiction. One effective way to overcome addiction would be through faith-based recovery.
For this type of addiction treatment option, the approach is centered on overcoming addiction by relying on faith. With this treatment option, people who undergo faith-based recovery spend their time following the fundamentals of the Christian faith. They spend their time in prayer, reading the Bible, confession, and fellowship. While this approach is no different than that of a normal church fellowship, this has yielded incredible results. In fact, 30 percent of those addicted individuals who undergo faith-based recovery actually experience long-term success.
Detoxification is a series of interventions aimed in managing withdrawal as well as acute intoxication. This treatment option would involve clearing all toxins in the body of a person who is acutely intoxicated or perhaps dependent on some substance other than alcohol. Detoxification has the capacity to minimize the physical harm that is caused by substance abuse.
Detoxification is also a form of a palliative care which aims to reduce the intensity of the disorder. This treatment is ideal for those people who want to abstain from alcohol and drug abuse. This treatment approach is performed together with other addiction treatments like therapies and counseling for the purpose of achieving positive and long-term effects.
There are three essential components of detoxification. The first component would be the evaluation, which entails testing for the presence of substances of abuse in a person’s body. The next component would be stabilization, which involves the psycho-social as well as medical process of assisting the affected person to attain a medically stable and substance-free state. The last component would be fostering the person into entering other forms of addiction treatment.
There are a lot of treatment centers available right now and each treatment center offers different kinds of addiction treatment options. Typically, treatment centers will formulate a unique addiction treatment regimen for each of their patients as there is no treatment option that fits everybody.
One type of treatment is the inpatient program. This is considered the most commonly used method to aid people in getting past their addictions. Most of the programs offered in inpatient facilities can last for about 30 days or more. Patients who enroll in this type of facility are required to live and stay in a controlled environment for better monitoring of their condition.
Another option would be the therapeutic communities. In this type of regimen, health care providers will provide medications, as well as conduct counseling sessions to patients to help them with overcoming their addiction. If ever one patient is not participating in a group or perhaps in a one-on-one counseling session, he or she will be asked to perform chores around the house. These facilities typically do not allow any guests, and patients are not allowed to leave. Moreover, these facilities will have strict rules. Patients can stay in these communities for several months at a time. The long stays can help them truly change their lives and develop a healthy lifestyle that they will stick with.
Another addiction treatment program is the outpatient program. This type of approach is best for those people who do not have the ability to step out of their lives for several weeks to months at a time to get help. This program varies in terms of intensity, depending on the severity of the addiction. Some programs will require an entire day while some programs will require a few hours per day.
Addiction is a serious condition, but it is treatable. With proper information about addiction and treatment, you can make an informed decision for yourself or for your loved one.