Understanding Addiction and Its Warning Signs
Research shows there’s a huge misunderstanding about what addiction is. People mainly perceive addiction as physical dependence on a substance. As a result, many people think about it as something that can be avoided through moral uprightness. However, this simple definition of addiction doesn’t offer the desired solution for the issue at hand.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, specific structural alterations in the brain can make the recovery process from addiction superhard for certain people. To get a clear understanding of addiction, it’s important to consider some common misconceptions regarding the term. Some people believe that a person who uses drugs and alcohol frequently suffers from addiction.
However, it is worth noting that some regular drug and alcohol users aren’t addicts. On the other hand, a person may be addicted, yet they aren’t physically reliant on the substance.
So, What Is the Right Meaning of Addiction?
Studies define addiction as mental health issues, mainly referred to as substance use disorders. These disorders include:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Marijuana use disorder
- Stimulant use disorder
Analysis of the above disorders requires professional assistance. In many cases, mental well-being experts explore and identify specific warnings or signs that help them diagnose the type of disorder present. Some of the common symptoms that these professionals explore include:
- Recurrent use
- Continued use
- Longings, desires, or yearnings to use
- Lack of ability to halt
However, the greatest sign of substance use disorder manifests when a person cannot cut back the use of a drug or alcohol, even after undergoing adverse consequences. Some of the common consequences resulting from drug and alcohol abuse can include:
- Increased conflict rates in important relationships
- Poor performances or struggle at work
- Adverse effects or noticeable struggle on the financial status of the addicted person
If a person continues using a given substance despite facing these adverse impacts, it is safe to say they are addicted. In other words, the consequence above portray instances of dependency on a given substance.
In matters regarding addiction, it is worth noting that some heavy users of a given substance might fail to reach the criterion for diagnosis with an addiction disorder. That’s particularly the case when a person doesn’t experience an adverse consequence of substance use disorder. Unfortunately, even though the diagnosis might fail to identify a person as an addict, any heavy user of a drug or alcohol mainly has a high chance of developing the disorder.
In many cases, people with an addiction disorder find themselves trying their best to hide the issue from others, making it hard to notice. However, close friends and people in a relationship with an addicted person might easily notice the slightest change in behavior. This behavior change can be portrayed through:
- Declining reliability and not taking the required responsibility
- Acting strange
- Failure to honor promises
Losing a job, relationship, or getting into unexplained monetary hardships can be enough signs to note an addicted person. At times, addiction can lead to the person facing the struggle of withdrawing from relatives or have prolonged periods without getting in contact to create a boundary. Besides, you may realize a change in moods and behavior.
The Origin of Addiction
Addiction signs take time to manifest or occur. They are mainly due to a person continuing to use a substance, and he or she ends up being reliant on it. However, some substances have high addiction qualities, meaning that people who use them have a high chance of developing an addiction than those who use a low-quality addiction drug.
Some examples of highly-addictive drugs include heroin and nicotine. Other drugs that have lower rates include alcohol and cannabis. In the provided cases, addiction results from a person deciding to use the substance, which later develops into a disorder. However, multiple involuntary issues also cause addiction.
When a person is addicted, they suffer from poor behavior control, and the brain circuits that play a role in motivation, memory, and learning are equally affected. Other drugs, especially alcohol, causes the release of dopamine, which results in pleasant feelings. As a result of the continued use of such substances, the brain creates a link between the pleasant feeling and substance use.
In the end, the person using the substance will feel “rewarded” through the pleasurable experience. The “reward feeling” finally creates a potent inducement to carry on using the substance. The case, therefore, explains the craving or yearning feeling that many users of given substances experience. It is safe to say that this experience later causes a strong desire to continue using the substance.
The parts of the brain that play a part in developing crucial behaviors now become compulsive and problematic. Some conduct, including eating, sexual behaviors, and betting, are well-known for their interaction with the brain’s reward pathways (American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2011). However, according to mental well-being practitioners, it is informal to identify addictions resulting from certain diagnoses. Nonetheless, some similar features exist between a person with such behavioral issues and people with substance use problems.
It is worth noting that your initial decision is mainly voluntary when it comes to substance abuse, although regular use of a drug or alcohol leads to an involuntary response. According to research, some people have a higher risk of developing the reward pathway above, due to several factors that include:
- Underlying mental health issues
- Previous traumatic experience
The frontal lobe in the brain, according to scientists, plays a role in delaying gratification and evert impulsive actions. Therefore, some people are at risk of developing an addiction since they might have a prefrontal cortex yet to develop. Unfortunately, this section of the brain develops past adolescence, meaning that young people might have a high risk of developing substance use disorder.
Luckily enough, despite the specific change that addiction causes in the brain’s structure, there is a high chance for people to reverse this impact. Scientists understand that our brain can change in response to our behavior, irrespective of our stage in life. Therefore, people who developed an addiction disorder earlier can restructure their brain circuit to lower the risk of substance use by failure to use alcohol or other drugs for a long period.
The bottom line is, for an addicted person, recovering here is barely straightforward. Although getting the necessary treatment can considerably bolster the chance of productive recovery, there are multiple stages of trials and errors.
Understanding How Addiction Progresses
If left untreated, a substance use disorder mainly progresses to worse levels. This progression can cause a person to fall into more frequent use of the substance or neglect other responsibilities to use drugs or alcohol. In some cases, a person can tolerate the drug, implying that recent or previous quantities might not bring the desired effects.
This, in many cases, raises the risk for far-much consequence. It is worth noting that different substances can have variable effects. Therefore, a person or people using a specific product might start developing a huge physical dependence on the drug, which can cause uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms in their attempt to stop using drugs.
In addition, addiction affects people differently, meaning that some might fail to become physically addicted. Instead, those people may find themselves using alcohol or drugs to handle depression, painful emotions, or to have the energy to tackle day-to-day tasks. Conclusively, it is right to identify addiction as a growing dependence on a substance, even without developing physical dependency.
Possible Addiction Treatment
Irrespective of the severity of the substance use disorder of a person, it is possible to get the right treatment and prevent the signs of the disorder from manifesting again. Mild addiction disorder cases might, however, trigger the need for a specific treatment method. On the other hand, severe substance use disorder cases might call for more detailed or specialized treatments. Fortunately, the availability of multiple treatments, including outpatient, inpatient, and therapeutic approaches, increases the chance of a person with an addiction disorder getting the proper treatment.
Consulting an experienced therapist is the most recommended option. The counselor advises you on the best help services accessible in your region. Besides the therapist, you can also seek this mental health help from your primary physician, psychiatrist, or nearby social worker. Your insurance company might also be a viable option to consult, as they will tell you about the services covered under their plans.
Starting the treatment program for addiction enables a person to learn techniques and skills essential in their attempt to regain the desired control of their lives. This also helps a person begin repairing the damage caused by substance use. In most cases, the course includes:
- Noting the consequence of alcohol and drug use
- Identifying the risk and causes of prolonged use
- Coming up with effective counter-craving skills
- Improving to a healthier lifestyle
A person can finish the treatment and attain remission, but he or she will still be required to carry on with the support system and use the learned techniques to avoid relapse in the future. People consider addiction disorder as chronic due to their high risk of relapse, implying that people in remission have a high risk of addiction than a person who never had such a disorder. In many cases, people in long remission periods might realize great benefits through taking part in effective group counseling or recovery communities even without active treatment.
How to Help a Person Suffering from Addiction
Addiction affects not only an individual with substance use disorder but also his or her friends and family. Having the ability to act right and support an addicted close friend or relative is not easy, and in these circumstances, the usual methods might not be fruitful. You can practice the following approaches when helping someone you love who struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.
Show Them That You Care
It is often crucial to ask those you love concerning such a sensitive topic, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Refusing to accept someone you love condition only worsens the situation as they will remain in denial about their addiction and its consequence. How we approach them should not be demanding but should show the genuine love and care we have towards them.
However, you might have a strong emotional attachment to this concern, such as anger towards this individual for things they might have said or done while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Avoid holding such conversations when you have strong feelings of anger towards this person. Instead, you should confront the person with love and care, showing them how much worry and care you have towards them.
Participate In Therapy
Recovering addicts benefit a lot when they have those they love taking part in their treatment. In most plans, an addict’s loved ones are allowed in the recovery process and also conjoined therapy sessions so that friends and family can come together and take part in the whole process.
When you offer to participate in treatment for someone you love, it gives them a sense of emotional support even before making up their minds. This way, you help them not be defensive by demonstrating your willingness to participate in their healing process and not just advising them to seek help independently.
Avoid Protecting Them From Expected Consequences
Now and then, a person struggling with addiction approaches friends and relatives to ask for money or assistance in fixing the damages in their life brought about by their addiction. It can be difficult not to help someone you love who’s an addict because of the love and concern we have for them. But giving that financial help and other favors only brings them more damage than help. This only makes it easy and allows them to continue abusing drugs.
Even though it may be painful and hard to ignore their calls for assistance, it is crucial to avoid helping them and allow them to face the consequence of their actions. When they suffer the consequence, they will be motivated to seek help and treatment.
There’s a huge difference between helping and enabling when handling a loved one with an addiction. It is essential to develop new limits in your relationship with people struggling with substance use disorder to protect yourself and other people you care about. These limits include making financial decisions such as discontinuing lending them money or giving any form of financial support to the family member struggling with addiction.
It may also involve avoiding contact with a loved one while actively using drugs and alcohol because they are not trustworthy at these states, and their behavior is unpredictable. On the other hand, there might be friends or relatives who are more at risk of being taken advantage of or hurt by the addict, like a child or an older person. You may need to take precautions also to keep them away from this person.
As painful as it may be to put up these restrictions against those you love. You should keep in mind that they are not themselves while abusing these substances. Additionally, limits and protective measures put into practice should carry on for a while, even after the addict has undergone treatment or has managed their addiction. This allows the recovered addict to earn friends and relatives’ trust once more, especially if they had broken it while struggling with addiction.
Remember To Take Care of Yourself
It is not unusual for a person to forget about themselves while taking care of an addicted loved one’s feelings and concerns. It is crucial to recognize your feelings on the subject during the recovery process. Putting your feelings aside might cause stress and emotional reliance, which will add more burden to other members of your family.
In other words, remember to take care of your own needs while helping an addicted friend or relative recover. Don’t forget to take care of your responsibilities and also set apart time for yourself. Additionally, you can consider joining a support group with people who are also helping recovering addicts. You can also seek help from a therapist to process the emotions and added stress caused by seeing someone you love suffering from addiction.
Substance use disorder is a chronic ailment with multiple relapses and remission sequences. Addiction treatment or recovery counseling participation can reduce the disease’s severity and avoid disability or fatal consequences.
Fortunately, with Trustsession.com, everything you need to know about addiction, its consequence, treatment, and prevention is easily accessible for everyone. The site also helps you learn about the process of picking the right counselor for your addiction issues. In other words, the PrimeTherapist site offers tips and solutions that positively impact your therapy effectiveness.