Alcoholism, drug dependence and addiction, known as substance use disorders, are complex problems. People with these drug abuse and addiction once were thought to have a character defect or moral weakness; some people mistakenly still believe that. However, most scientists and medical researchers now consider dependence on alcohol or drugs to be a long-term illness, like asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), or diabetes.
Substance use disorder is an illness that can affect anyone: rich or poor, male or female, employed or unemployed, young or old, and any race or ethnicity. Nobody knows for sure exactly what causes it, but the chance of developing a substance use disorder depends partly on genetics – biological traits passed down through families. A person’s environment, psychological traits, and stress level also play major roles by contributing to the use of alcohol or drugs.
Some people drink alcohol in moderation and some can stop taking drugs without a struggle. However, many times people develop a substance use disorder that becomes compulsive or dangerous (or both). In a social and work setting such as schools, hospitals, or places of employment, drug abuse tests are often conducted. This means that the ramifications of drug abuse can spill over into these aspects of life as well.
Researchers have found that using drugs for a long time changes the brain in important, long-lasting ways. It is as if a switch in the brain turned on at some point. This point is different for every person, but when this switch turns on, the person crosses an invisible line and becomes dependent on the substance. People who start using drugs or alcohol early in life run a greater risk of crossing this line and becoming dependent. These changes in the brain remain long after a person stops using drugs or drinking alcohol.
Experts say that there is a link between chemical changes in the brain nerve and substance addiction. The drugs act as a stimulant to provide dopamine and create a ‘high’ in the brain. While, in the short run this may not cause much harm to the brain but after long periods of dependence, these drugs disrupt the user’s physical, mental and social life. Drug abuse and addiction cause lasting changes in the brain. Prevention of drug abuse by abstaining from it is the best way to avoid such circumstances. Even a first time use of a drug may act as a gateway to long term abuse.
Symptoms of Drug Abuse
Drug substance abuse affects people from all walks of life, no matter whether they started taking drugs recreationally or as prescribed. Tolerance and dependence can sometimes develop even before the user realizes it. There are various long term effects of drug and substance abuse. Here’s how to recognize them –
- Physical Symptoms – Poor physical coordination, staggering walk, insomnia, loss of appetite, abrupt weight changes, sweaty palms, watery eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual, nausea, vomiting or excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat, et cetera.
- Behavioural Symptoms – Change in attitude or personality, temper tantrums, chronic dishonesty, sudden oversensitivity, paranoia, silliness, mood swings, irritability, nervousness, depression, lethargy, major habit changes, and/or involvement in criminal activities.
Common Harmful Substances that are Addictive
- Amphetamines – They are a strong stimulator that affects the central nervous system. Their medical purpose is to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while non-medically, they are used for recreational purposes. Some of the adverse effects of amphetamines are loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, and sudden upliftment of mood.
- Cannabis – Cannabis use can cause anxiety, paranoia and loss of motivation. There’s evidence that cannabis use increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. Cannabis can cause lung disease and cancer.
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a natural stimulant usually found in tea, coffee, and cacao plant. It stimulates the brain and central nervous system and helps you stay awake by preventing tiredness.
- Cocaine – Cocaine, or coke, is highly addictive and it can induce fits in otherwise normal people or even heart attack and panic attacks.
- Hallucinogens – Hallucinogens produce a loss of contact with reality and an experience of expanded and heightened consciousness. It can induce psychotic illnesses, mood disorders, and anxiety.
- Inhalants – Inhalants are a group of substances like solvents, glues, adhesives, aerosol propellants, paint thinners and fuels. Inhalants can cause delirium, dementia, and psychotic conditions.
- Nicotine – This is a chemical that contains nitrogen and can be found in several plants, including tobacco. It’s highly addictive and can cause tobacco dependency in people.
- Opioids – There are about 20 different chemically distinct opioid drugs in use. Opioid abuse and dependence can cause sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, psychotic states, and anxiety disorder.
- Prescription drugs – These are strong medications that require a prescription from a doctor. They can be of three types i.e. opioids, depressants, and stimulants.
Ways to Overcome Addiction
Entering the world of substance abuse is easy, but quitting can be excruciatingly painful. It is painful for the user, his/her family and friends. The substance can quite easily consume the user’s life and disrupt his studies, work and every relationship he/she cherishes. This also causes side effects such as short term memory loss, weight loss or gain in appetite etc., which can be dangerous and affect the addict’s life in a very harmful way. In some cases addiction to prescription medicines, cocaine and heroin can result in overdoses that may be fatal. Here the question arises – ‘Is there no way out of addiction?’
Treatment for substance addiction depends on the severity and the substance of addiction. The first step in recovering is for the patient to admit that he/she is facing an addiction problem. The treatment involves providing aid and support to the patient from having the tendency to abuse drugs.
Psychotherapy – It involves one-to-one sessions with the counsellor in providing support to gradually gain control over drug dependency.
Self-help groups – The patients have close interactions with other similar patients suffering from addiction problems. They share each other’s story and often act as a motivation factor in recovering from disorder. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Help with Medications – There are medications available to prevent the cravings for the drugs which involves both medications and regular monitoring and counselling.
Cadabam’s Hospitals provides treatment for drug addiction which involves a combination of behavioural and cognitive approach in providing an effective recovery from addiction which often involves care at each individual level.
Treatment of Drug Abuse
Substance abuse disorder not only affects the individual but everyone around them. Among these, the family is the one that gets affected the most, both mentally and financially. Substance abuse is also associated with other problems such as health issues (affecting the liver), physical abuse and criminal activities.
Drug abuse treatment can be hard but there are quite a few treatment options available. These can help the individual get over the abuse:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): In CBT, the therapist helps the individual identify the negative thought patterns that are associated with substance abuse. Through the process, these negative patterns are replaced with positive ones. Here appropriate coping techniques are also taught to the individual.
- Motivational enhancement therapy: In this therapy, the therapist helps the individual get in touch with their personal motivation to give up the abuse. Here the individual is motivated to commit to the treatment plan and recover. This therapy is effective when used in the early stages to engage the individual in the treatment plan.
- Contingency management: This usually seen to be used in a residential program where individuals with a variety of disorder live together and seek recovery. Here expectations, regarding particular behaviour, are clearly stated to the individual. If they engage in this desired behaviour a reward is given. This technique is to reinforce desired behaviour by providing incentives.
- 12-step program: These are support groups are an essential part of recovery. Here individuals share their experiences and techniques that help them. These groups give the individual a sense of support and community. It can also help the individual structure their life and avoid temptations of the substance.
- Medications: Medications are mainly used in the detoxification process. Here the goal is to drain the substance out of the body. Specific medication and supervision are essential in this. Detoxification is also a stage where the individual gets a lot of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Techniques to cope with these are also provided.
- Long term residential programs: Here the whole living space is structured to help the individual recover. The individual is asked to stay for usually 6 – 12 months. A multidisciplinary team, consisting of a psychologist, nurse, psychiatrist and physician, takes care of the individual. All the team members render their services when required.
- Out-patient programs: Here the individual is provided treatment on a weekly basis. Every week they are required to meet and undergo therapy with a psychologist and psychiatrist. If progress is not observed in a period of time, they are offered a long term program.
- In-patient program: Rehabilitation is one of the best ways for the prevention of relapse to alcoholism and substance drugs abuse. This is similar to the long term program. A similar set of therapies are provided along with 24 hours of supervision from a multidisciplinary team. The only difference here is that the individual is required to stay only for a few weeks in the organization.
What happens during Drug Rehabilitation?
There are several substance abuse treatments undertaken in order to treat substance abuse:
Detoxification is the start of the rehabilitation process. It is a process by which individuals receive medications in order to rid their body of the harmful substances indulged during the abuse.
Withdrawal symptoms are experienced and with the help of medications, they can be suppressed. The process is safe and undertaken by professional medical and mental care experts.
- Behavioural interventions
Behavioural interventions are undertaken in order to modify an individual’s attitudes and behaviours related to substance use as well as help them develop and increase healthy life skills.
Interventions like cognitive-behavioural therapy that individual recognize, prevent and cope with situations that compel them to use substances.
- Multidimensional Family Therapy
Multidimensional family therapy is a therapy that focuses on substance abuse problems and maladaptive family patterns that influence substance abuse. It also helps improve the overall well being of the family. Contingency management that uses positive reinforcement to encourage behaviours to abstain from substance use.
- Group Therapy
Substance abuse rehabilitation encourages group therapy. These group sessions encourage recovering addicts to learn and grow from each other’s experiences and progress. This helps individuals immensely to know that they are not alone in their recovery struggles.
They also find solace in each other’s stories of addiction and recovery. This sense of support is vital to an individual’s recovery process. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous are well-known group therapy programs.
- Relapse Preventive Measures
Though relapses are common, good outcomes are dependent on adequate treatment length. Medications under the supervision and prescription of mental and medical health professionals are provided to individuals to help them re-establish normal functions and lower their cravings for the substance.
Along with this psychotherapy, motivation enhancement therapy and insight building are undertaken to make sure the relapse is prevented.
Substance abuse rehabilitation programs are extremely helpful for individuals with substance abuse problems. From round the clock medical professionals to tailor-made treatment programs, rehabilitation provides individuals with skills and training to overcome their need for substance use.
Cadabams is one of the best substance and drug abuse rehabilitation centre in Bangalore where we help you walk on the path to holistic wellness by destigmatizing dependency and treating it like any other illness. We have over two decades of experience in the rehabilitation space and thousands of successful recoveries to our credit. Our wellness experts use a number of techniques such as mindfulness, therapy, meditation, and yoga to help you detox.
To learn more about drug abuse rehabilitation, call us now on +919611194949.