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Substance Abuse and Addiction


Substance abuse and addiction are two sides of the same coin. Substance abuse often starts as something completely different than what it inevitably ends up as. People who abuse substances and become addicted have only three things to look forward to jails, institutions, and death. The lucky few find recovery and a new life free of drugs and alcohol. For these people, substance abuse treatment was vital as the first step towards their better life.

Many more people, however, wind up incarcerated or dead from their substance abuse disorder. According to the CDC, approximately 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose alone. That figure doesn’t include those dying from stimulants, alcohol, or any of the other types of substances abused.

In 2016, an estimated 48.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs, which are another major cause of overdose death. The problem of substance abuse and addiction has been steadily increasing, and 2018 only continued the trend. Unfortunately, 2019 doesn’t hold any promises for stemming the tide of this health crisis.

The statistics for drugs like heroin and opioids are staggering. However, other medicines, such as Vyvanse, Xanax and alcohol are also turning many Americans’ lives into living hell. Prescription drugs can be extremely addictive, which comes as an unpleasant surprise to many people who otherwise try to be careful with what they put in their bodies. The phenomenon of addiction has now indeed spread to people of all ages, race, gender, and other demographics.

The disease of addiction doesn’t discriminate against who it chooses to destroy. Stigma still surrounds addiction as though only those people who lack integrity or character are affected. Luckily, those old ways of thinking are strongly challenged by the mass media today, and many people are learning that addiction is a disease that can affect anyone.



Substances of Abuse

There are a plethora of substances abused today. However, some of the most commonly abused substances are prescription drugs, opiates and opioids, and stimulants. A person who abuses one type of material may frequently harm the content of a different kind if his or her drug of choice is not immediately available. Also, other elements may be added to the cocktail of substances to enhance or counter some aspect.

For example, many opiate or opioid users will use other types of substances instead of their drug of choice. Heroin is an opiate and is relatively inexpensive compared to prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. When these are not available, or the cost is prohibitive, the user may switch to heroin. He or she may permanently or temporarily change, which is more or less frequent depending on the substances being switched between. Substance abusers progressively need stronger and stronger materials to obtain the high and comfort they are seeking.

People may start by abusing their prescription for Valium or Vicodin, however, steady progress to stronger prescription drugs and/or illegal drugs. Combining alcohol with prescription and illicit drugs is common and often deadly. When the original substance of abuse stops working, the person often finds something that will satisfy the craving. The disease usually progresses until no amount of any drug becomes enough and the person overdoses attempting to achieve the high he or she wants.

Co-occurring Disorders

People afflicted with addiction often suffer from another mental or physical illness. Depression, anxiety, PTSD and many other mental illnesses are found to affect people who have an obsession. People with addiction and any other mental illness are said to have co-occurring disorders because of how the two disorders play on each other.

The reason for the uncannily high number of cross-overs is that people who experience mental illnesses, such as depression, often try to self-medicate to soothe their symptoms. In the case of depression, however, use of alcohol or other drugs will often lead to a worsening of symptoms. Thus, creating an increase in substance abuse. The cycle continues until the depression and substance abuse make each other worse to the point it may be difficult to distinguish which is causing what.

Given the complexity of such situations, people with co-occurring disorders must be treated for both issues simultaneously. If the addiction is targeted, but the depression is left unchanged, the depression symptom will typically lead to a relapse of the addictive behaviours. However, if the depression alone is treated, the interactions of the substances abused will cause the recession to remain unresolved.

Treatment centres are often highly skilled in treating people with co-occurring disorders given the universal nature of such cases. Substance abuse treatment centres will treat both diseases so that those they manage can go on to live a happy and healthy life.



Substance Abuse Treatment

Addiction is a mental illness that progressively worsens unless treated directly. Substance abuse treatment is the only way many people with addiction and substance abuse problems find a happy ending. 12-step programs are available to anyone who wants to free themselves from addiction. However, many people find it challenging to detox or will themselves off their substance of choice in the first few weeks and months.

Some substances shouldn’t be stopped suddenly without the aid of medical professionals. These include alcohol and benzodiazepines, which can cause lethal withdrawal side effects. A detox centre or substance abuse treatment centre with detox capability should be sought immediately by anyone who has heavily used either of these substances.

Since those first few weeks are so critical to establishing stability and health, many people require the help of professionals. Treatment centres help the individual not only detox off the substances but regain overall health through healthy eating, sleep habits, treatment of other mental and physical ailments. Otherwise, these things might drag the person back into using.

Many people emerge from a treatment program looking so much better than they’re almost unrecognisable as the people who walked in. The miracle of sobriety can bring even the most far-gone cases back to living a life full of purpose and happiness.

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