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. Substance abuse treatment was vital for these people as the first step towards a better life.

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

In 2016, an estimated 48.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs, 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 to stem 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, also turn many Americans’ lives into hell. Prescription drugs can be highly addictive, which is an unpleasant surprise to many 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, races, 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 who lack integrity or character are affected. Luckily, the mass media strongly challenges those old ways of thinking 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 most commonly used substances are prescription drugs, opiates and opioids, and stimulants. A person who uses 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 aspects.

For example, many opiate or opioid users will use other 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 unavailable, 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 exchanged. Substance abusers progressively need more robust materials to obtain the high and comfort they seek.

People may start by abusing their prescription for Valium or Vicodin; however, they steadily progress to more potent 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 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 diseases affect each other.

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

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 behaviors. However, if depression alone is treated, the interactions of the substances abused will cause the recession to remain unresolved.

Given the universal nature of such cases, treatment centers are often highly skilled in treating people with co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse treatment centers 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 center or substance abuse treatment center 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 centers help the individual detox off the substances and regain overall health through healthy eating, sleep habits, and treatment of other mental and physical ailments. Otherwise, these things might drag the person back into use.

Many people emerge from a treatment program looking so much better than they’re almost unrecognizable 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.