Overcoming addiction is not the same for every person. The way addiction alters your brain can affect many aspects of your life, including your job and relationships. After a long time of ignorance on the subject of addiction, scientists have started to understand the effect addiction has on people and their actual brain chemistry. This research has led to a more understanding and effective treatment strategy.
Research has shown that addiction can mess with the way the brain responds to rewards, as well as changing the parts of your brain that control behaviors and impulse controls. Because of this structural change, quitting the substance or activity you are addicted to isn’t as simple as just stopping the behavior. Treatment has to include behavioral changes to help restructure the way your brain responds to the things around you. The way addition reacts and changes the brain is extensive and interesting. For a deeper dive into what it does, check out https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain.
Since each substance offers different hurdles when treating it, speaking with a doctor, therapist, and your family to create an effective treatment plan is the most important thing. Every person handles their addiction differently, so it is important to stay on the path your professionals have made for you, and not compare your journey with anyone else’s.
Common Addictive Substances
Alcohol: One of the most common substance use disorders is alcohol use. The ease in which to find and purchase alcohol makes it a common problem for everyone, despite their station in life. The social pressure to drink makes this a particularly difficult disorder to overcome. Relapses can be common because alcohol is everywhere. Most other substances, avoiding it can be easy; but with alcohol, total avoidance is nearly impossible. Dependence on alcohol can create many health problems, such as liver disease, cancer, pancreatitis, and brain damage. Personal problems can arise from excessive alcohol use as well, such as anger, financial issues, and unstable relationships.
Opioids: This category covers anything that interacts with the opioid receptors located on the cells of your nerves. These receptors induce pleasure and block pain. These substances include prescription drugs, heroine, and fentanyl. Because of the pleasure inducing aspect of these substances, they can be highly addictive. Opioids also tend to dull the effects after prolonged use, meaning the user will need more and more drugs to feel the same effects. This can lead to a number of physical problems, the most important being overdose or death. Other side-effects are increased sensitivity to pain, memory loss, and depression.
Nicotine: Similar to alcohol, nicotine isn’t a banned substance, so ease of acquisition makes this substance easy to become addicted to. Anyone adult can purchase cigarettes from gas stations or grocery stores. While many campaigns to “quit smoking” made a dent in cigarette sales in the United States, the emergence of the vape pen created a new nicotine problem. Vaping, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and hookahs are some common ways to ingest nicotine. The list of health problems that are caused by smoking is long. Smoking negatively affects nearly every organ in the body and can lead to health problems such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer, bronchitis, strokes, and diabetes.
Other substances that can cause addictions are marijuana, stimulants, and sedatives. For a complete list of substance use disorders, visit this website. Besides substances, addiction can manifest in activities. This means people are no longer able to control the need to participate in that activity. Common addictive activities are gambling, eating, and exercising.
To overcome addiction, treatment by a professional may be required. Most treatments involve three steps: Detox, therapy, and recovery.
Some substances might require medical attention while you detox from the substance. Detox is just the time it takes for the remnants of the substance to leave your body. With highly addictive substances detox can cause painful withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms might require medication to alleviate.
Detoxing inside a medical center is the safest and most efficient way to detox. Detoxing is a part of the in-patient rehab facilities and you won’t need to pay more for it. If you aren’t choosing an in-patient program, there are rehab facilities that provide detoxing for out-patient care. Some facilities, like these Aurora rehab centers, provide both in-patient and out-patient options. Detoxing is not something that you want to go through alone. Detoxing can cause some serious side effects, even death, if not monitored by a professional.
Therapy is the most significant portion of treatment. Without the ability to rewire the brain’s structure through behavioral therapy, the chances of relapsing are very high. Therapy will provide a chance to talk about some underlying triggers for substance use. Individual therapy will also provide a great place to figure out healthier reactions to life’s triggering moments.
Most programs include group therapy as a secondary resource. These group therapy sessions create a sense of community for the patient, and provide opportunities for them to learn from each other. Group therapy helps patients come to terms with their addiction in a supportive, safe environment.
Recovery is something that happens with every choice you make for the rest of your life. Once detox is finished and therapy has begun, recovery is the process to continue staying sober. These processes will help maintain sobriety. The basis of recovery is finding a sense of purpose and community in your life. This can come from finding new hobbies to keep you motivated, making more fulfilling career choices, and being a part of support groups.
Recovery is about taking the tools you learned in therapy and putting them into practice every day. Not everyone’s process is the same, so these learned behaviors should be specific to what you need. They should focus on combating the situations and experiences that trigger your craving for the substance. Recovery isn’t a quick step, and it could take the rest of your life, but the tools you use will not only keep you sober, but create a happier, healthier life overall.