It is necessary to realize that addiction is a complex disease that causes a person to continue to use drugs or alcohol despite the negative consequences that may result. Those who are addicted to a substance dedicate all their energy to getting and staying high.
Severe addictions can also cause a person to become physically dependent on a drug or alcohol, making it impossible to function without it. Long-term use of drugs and alcohol also alters the neurochemistry of the brain, which in turn makes the need to use or drink worse.
It is important to locate a treatment center that provides professional drug abuse treatment that can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual once they realize they need help.
How to Identify Addiction
The most common sign of drug use and/or addiction is a change in personality and behavior. These changes can be dramatic or subtle. If your family member suddenly stops eating or does not come home at night, these are serious signs of potential drug use.
A less obvious sign might be not showing up on time for a family dinner or saying they are no longer interested in an activity they once enjoyed. The signs of drug use can often include:
- Work or school problems – constantly missing work or classes, disinterested in their job or school activities, being fired, or declining grades.
- Health issues – energy and motivation issues, sleeping too much or too little, weight gain or loss.
- Uncared appearance – lack of interest in clothing, showering, grooming, or appearance.
- Drastic changes in social behavior – not talking to family and friends, hanging around with people who are using or drinking, a sudden interest in risky behaviors involving drugs and alcohol.
- Issues relating to money – frequent requests to borrow money, needing help to pay bills without a reasonable explanation, reports having things stolen, or stealing from family or friends.
Why Can’t Someone Just Stop Using Drugs?
There is evidence that addiction disrupts the brain’s functions that control behavior, learning, and judgment. There are specific reward circuits in the brain that release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins when a person experiences pleasure. Someone who is not prone to addiction will not notice the effects of these neurochemicals the way someone who is.
For people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol, their brains have adapted to drugs that instigate pleasure chemicals in the brain. Drugs are, therefore, necessary for them to experience joy, relaxation, and pleasure.
Most drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” causing euphoria as well as flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. A properly functioning reward system motivates a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit (from drugs, also) cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the action again and again. (NIDA, 2022)
Are Some Drugs More Dangerous?
All drugs are dangerous and can be life-threatening as well as addictive. However, the drugs that are most concerning include opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines. Opioids include heroin, fentanyl, prescription painkillers, and methadone. Benzodiazepines that are most often abused include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin.
These categories of drugs, along with alcohol, cause physical dependency and require medically supervised detox. Additionally, Fentanyl is the most dangerous risk for any type of drug use. Fentanyl is found in heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, molly, marijuana, and counterfeit prescription pills.
What Addiction Treatment Programs Are Provided?
All of our inpatient, intensive outpatient (IOP), and long-term treatment programs include in-depth counseling options. Through evidence-based forms of therapy, we support our patients cognitively, emotionally, and physically. Addiction goes beyond substances.
At its therapeutic core, addicts and alcoholics require help to achieve better mental and emotional health. The treatment we provide is a comprehensive approach based on the latest research. The following treatment types are included in all programs:
- One on One Counseling
- Small-Group Counseling
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavioral therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Anger and Stress Management
- Holistic Therapy
- Relapse Prevention
- Aftercare Counseling