For many, overcoming addiction seems like an impossibility, and yet, countless individuals have been able to break free from the vicious circle of substance abuse. It requires taking the first step, seeking treatment, and long-term sustainability. Those who are genuinely motivated can find satisfaction in life without the use of intoxicants.
Understanding Drug Addiction
In order to solve a problem, you have to understand it. Substance addiction is a chronic disease in which individuals suffering cannot control behaviors related to drug or alcohol use. Moreover, the person struggles with an obsessive and compulsive urge to obtain and use substances despite the adverse consequences.
Drug Addiction Is a Disease
Drug addiction is considered to be a chronic brain disease because it affects a variety of brain functions, including the following:
- Decision making
- Reward and pleasure
The changes in the functions of the brain mentioned above may persist for years after stopping drug use, and this is one of the main reasons many people relapse. This is not much different than the patterns of improvement and regression seen in other diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Like many other health disorders, drug addiction is also preventable and treatable and, if unaddressed, can completely devastate a person’s life.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
People use drugs and alcohol for many reasons. Much drug use is a means of self-medication, but oftentimes drug use is justified. For example, prescription drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines, when used as directed, can significantly improve people’s lives.
In the end, reasons for substance abuse come down to a variety of possibilities, such as social pressure, curiosity, or to avoid unwanted psycho-emotional states such as anxiety and depression. Some merely seek to experience euphoria or “get high.” Still, others use drugs to increase productivity, lose weight, or enhance athletic performance.
Your Brain on Drugs
Most people who use intoxicating substances for the first time do so deliberately. However, after the use of drugs or alcohol has begun to cause changes in a person’s brain, it can become challenging to resist using more. Many intoxicating substances provoke brain chemistry changes at a fundamental level, which will ultimately cause physical dependence.
Most psychoactive drugs, both illicit and prescription, interfere with the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. This effect is frequently related to a massive increase in dopamine, a neurochemical responsible for feelings of well-being that motivates us to repeat a specific behavior. If you use substances that manipulate the brain’s reward system, you are causing your brain to reward itself in the aftermath of destructive behaviors.
Dependence, which can occur over time, is hallmarked by the body’s inability to function normally without the presence of a substance. Stopping the use of drugs or alcohol at this point leads to unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms that onset as the brain fights to reestablish chemical stability.
As a person uses a substance for an extended period, their brain adapts to that drug’s effects and makes them feel increasingly less satisfied with the feelings that result. This condition is known as tolerance and means a person will need to use ever-increasing amounts of a substance to achieve the effects they are seeking.
The Cycle of Relapse
Because substance addiction, in essence, rewires the brain, it tends to impair a person’s ability to exercise judgment or self-control. This effect means that many individuals trying to defeat their addiction will be susceptible to relapse and may be driven to reengage in substance abuse.
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that often requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treatment in order to overcome. Moreover, if a person attempts to overcome addiction by sheer will alone, the likelihood of long-term success is not good. Even those who have been in recovery for several years may still be vulnerable to relapse. It is important to understand that relapse does not equal total failure—it means that a person needs further treatment and that the components of such will likely need to be adjusted.
Studies have shown that people who undergo care in a comprehensive addiction program experience better outcomes than those who try to do it alone or receive inadequate care. That said, many individuals have quit using substances cold turkey without professional help. One of the main problems with this, however, is that while a person can remove drugs and alcohol from their lives, this doesn’t address the underlying reasons why they used them and became addicted in the first place.
Steps to Overcome Drug Addiction
If you or a person you love is currently suffering from addiction, you shouldn’t feel helpless or hopeless. While addiction is not curable, it can be effectively treated if the person is motivated and takes certain steps to enact positive change.
1. Accept There is a Problem
Acceptance is always the first step to getting better. You will never be able to defeat addiction if you can’t admit it to yourself and others. You have to confront your problems and immediately start working towards resolving them.
2. Decide to Make a Change Now
Most people realize that addiction is a harmful and potentially life-threatening disorder. However, it is often difficult to make a change in the here and now. The nature of addiction forces people to feel uncertain and hesitant when it comes to becoming motivated to change their destructive behaviors.
3. Set Goals
Short-term goals may include many elements, but seeking professional treatment should be an absolute priority. You may wish to immediately begin changing habits by cutting back on substance use while you await entry into an addiction treatment program. You can also avoid social interaction with those who may try to dissuade you from getting help or drag you down deeper into addiction.
Another goal should be admitting the problem to family and friends and asking them for support. No one should be forced to go through this alone. Others can help you find treatment and keep you from intensifying your substance abuse until you get into a program.
The treatment-seeking process often involves calling various facilities, discussing treatment options, finding out what insurance companies take, and how much costs will be. Treatment specialists should also help you determine what treatment would be most effective for you and help you get on pace for the best outcome.
You may want to consider long-term goals, such as where you would like to see yourself in one month, three months, a year, etc. This can help you stay motivated and on track. Remember that a full recovery can take a significant amount of time, so you should not allow yourself to get discouraged if you don’t immediately feel self-assured.
Overcoming Addiction: Finding Treatment
Overcoming addiction is possible. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers can help you or a loved one begin the journey to a healthier, more satisfying life free from the use of drugs and alcohol.
We offer comprehensive addiction treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and residential formats that include clinically-proven services beneficial for the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, mindfulness therapy, and group support. Our team of compassionate and skilled addiction specialists is dedicated to providing each person we treat with the tools and support they direly need to recover from addiction and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and well-being.
If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, please contact Just Believe Detox today to discuss treatment programs. Discover how we help people who need it most free themselves from the disease of addiction for life!