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Drug addiction or substance abuse is a state when the patient or the user loses the ability to control the intake of a substance or becomes dependent on the drug for regular functioning.
Alcohol, marijuana, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs can cause addiction. People get introduced to drugs at parties or through people who consume prescription medicines for specific conditions.
When a person is addicted to a certain drug, they continue using it despite the adverse effects it has on their bodies. In instances where they have no access to those drugs, they start exhibiting symptoms like paranoia, headache, stomach aches, fever, and irrational behaviour.
Depending on the nature of the substance in use, the addiction varies. What begins recreationally becomes a fundamental part of life. With time, the amount of substance used to get high also increases as the body gets used to certain quantities; this is called developing a tolerance.
Studies show that 80-90% of patients who quit substance abuse get back to using drugs within one year of last intoxication. This can be beaten by a combination of seeking treatment, exercise, working on mindset, and a healthy diet. While just one of these will not do the trick, the combination is proven in doing wonders in terms of progress.
Also, it has been observed that people who do not have high self-control and succumb to substance abuse tend to exhibit a common trait known as ‘delayed discounting’. In this, users are willing to neglect the long term effects of substance abuse for the immediate endorphin high they can experience on an immediate basis.
However, there is a certain time gap between the urge and the action (consuming drugs), and this time can be used to beat the urge with cognitive thinking and mindfulness.
The common symptoms of drug addiction include:
Few physical symptoms of drug addiction include:
Drug addiction treatment is a multi-phase multi-approach method that relies on exercise, medication, therapy, and social stimulants. Oftentimes, drug addiction treatment is not successful in the first attempt, and patients are seen going back to using drugs shortly. Along with the willpower to quit, the patient will have to undergo a series of treatments that will help him/her overcome the powerful urges during the withdrawal phase.
Depending on the nature of the drug in use and the patient’s ability to cope up with the regime, the drug treatment program includes cognitive therapy, group therapy, coping and avoidance strategies, and social support classes.
Users who are addicted to the use of prescription drugs to get high may be prescribed medications similar to those for opioid drug abuse.
Combating drug addiction is tricky as any normal scenario could act as a trigger and resurface the urge to consume drugs. Identifying the trigger and chalking a detailed plan to work around the urge to consume is essential.
While few triggers are very straight forward, there are a few triggers that can lead to a relapse. However, it is essential that a patient speaks to a certified counselor to understand their triggers and plan a way around them when the situation presents itself.
Most triggers ride on the patient’s nostalgia and are stimulated by mental, environmental, and emotional factors.
The most common triggers for drug use are:
Being angry, hungry, lonely, or tired: If you are in the early stages of being clean, ensure that there are no scenarios where you are extremely hungry, lonely, tired, or angry. For a patient to overcome this, they will have to stick to a strict sleep schedule, workout regime, and plan their work schedules. Being a part of a social support group can help immensely.
Stress is also a factor that contributes in the same way. The stress that one goes through after losing a job, or a loved one, or a house can be strong enough to put a patient to relapse. Understanding the cause of the drug and working your way around it is the only way out.
Emotions like Anger, heartbreak, and sadness: These emotions often trigger the recovering patient to relapse. Unlike the above trigger, it is impossible for a patient to stop feeling these emotions. Hence, it is imperative that they find a way to work their way around them with alternative solutions that can help them divert the brain’s focus from the urge to get high as a solution.
Social settings where the substance is freely available: Patients recovering from drug abuse are advised not to date anyone for at least a year as new relationships require frequent public meetings at places like Pubs and Bars where it becomes difficult for the person who is recovering to control the urge. Adding to that, if a relationship breaks, the emotional trauma could be powerful enough to relapse.
Overconfidence and complacency: This is the most dangerous of all. Oftentimes, in the journey of being clean, when things start coming back to order and things look normal, patients become overconfident and intentionally start putting themselves in risky situations stating that they are in control of themselves. However, it is imperative to understand and acknowledge the fact that you have come a long way, and to keep it that way, avoiding trigger elements is of paramount importance.
Medications: Certain medications for physical pains and mental conditions can trigger relapse in recovering patients. If you are recovering, it is imperative to keep your doctor informed about this, thus enabling him/her to prescribe alternative medications that do not act as a trigger.
Nostalgia: Glorifying the good old days of drug abuse can be a powerful trigger. Active efforts should be made to recognize the earlier phase as a deteriorating condition and not euphoria.
Cravings are normal when you are trying to overcome a drug addiction problem. However, dealing with those cravings and not slipping back to use is of paramount importance. There are multiple ways of dealing with drug cravings. It is recommended to consult your physician and draft a plan that is tailor-made for you to prevent relapse.
Making a list: When the urge hits, it becomes difficult for the recovering patient to see past the urge and the need for an immediate high. In times like this, it is essential to remind yourself why you chose to quit drugs and reaffirm your mind on the negatives and positives of relapsing again.
Take the time to prepare a list of strong and honest motivating factors you could tell yourself when you’d experience an urge. This will help you ride past the urge way and avoid a relapse.
Take self-care seriously: Self-care in the form of meditation, yoga, a healthy diet, and regular exercise can help you in drug detoxification. These healthy routines will not only help you overcome an urge with relative ease but also help you make progress in the recommended drug rehabilitation programs.
Join a support group: Being part of a support group who are all undergoing treatment can be of immense support. Listening to the experiences of others and why they are struggling to remain free from drug addiction can help you understand the negative effects of drug addiction and think past the immediate urge to get high when the urge hits.
Being self-aware: As a recovering user, you are aware of your triggers, and you should ensure that you protect yourself from being present in the trigger zones that could cause you to relapse. Avoid being alone, going to pubs, or rave parties or similar settings that could make it difficult for you to control your urges.
Depending on the nature of the substance used, the nature of that addiction is defined, and a specified drug detoxification process is recommended.
The most common forms of drug addiction are:
Addiction to alcohol is real. More than often, people relate their ability to consume more alcohol as an ability and not a drug problem. If you are a man and are drinking more than four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks in a week, then, you are a heavy drinker.
If you are a woman and you drink more than three drinks a day and more than 12 a week, then, it could lead to severe liver failure, cholesterol, and other alcohol poisoning related problems.
Over the counter drugs or prescription drugs are just as harmful as illegal drugs like cocaine, meth, and acid. These prescription drugs give you the high but are also difficult to snap out from.
OTC drugs addiction starts when you start consuming drugs that are originally prescribed for someone else, are consuming more quantities than prescribed to get the kick, or are taking the drug for recreational purposes.
Drug addiction to prescription drugs can cause anxiety, depression, and mental stress. The most common form of OTC drug addiction is drinking large volumes of cough syrup that contains codeine (Commonly known as lean) to get a feeling of a high.
Opioid drug addiction:
Addiction to Heroin, Crystal meth, LSD, Extasy, and MDMA fall under the bracket of opioid drug addiction. As an addict, it becomes difficult to get easy access to these drugs, and when the effect of the high wears off, you feel feverish, tired, agitated, anxious, and angry till you experience the next high. Recovering from opioid addictions are painful and long as they are highly physiologically addictive.
Marijuana is often called a gateway drug for most people. People get introduced to this drug in social gatherings or parties. Though the use of medical marijuana is legal in a few countries, it is illegal in most places. Heavy consumption can leave you burned out and cause neural effects like memory loss and loss of appetite.
Nicotine in cigarettes:
Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. It gives you a temporary rush for a short duration that makes you want more and continue consuming until you feel satiated. The tolerance levels in a human body for nicotine is high; hence, one would end up smoking more cigarettes to attain the high. It is also the main cause of cancer and a host of other diseases.
Medically diagnosing a drug addiction problem is complicated. However, the first and the most important step is for the user to understand that he/she has a problem and that they are willing to overcome that.
The symptoms and diagnosis of drug addiction are fairly synonymous, and the focus should be on creating a safe environment for the addict to reveal their problems to others and seek help.
There are many ways that could help a patient through the process of drug recovery. Depending on the nature of the addiction, drug rehab centers and treatment methods are prescribed. The most common forms of drug addictions and their treatment are:
Detoxification: The patient could choose to go through the detoxification process at home or in drug detox facilities. Rehab is recommended as the patient would otherwise have to go through severe withdrawal on their own and would not have any medical assistance if something were to go wrong.
Adding to that, being in a drug addiction treatment center increases the chances of recovery and mitigates the chances of relapse to a great extent.
Behavioural counseling: Behavioural counseling is yet another form of drug addiction treatment as it constantly engages the mind of the patient and keeps them from being around their triggers.
Counselling has also proven effective for patients to identify their triggers and plan a way to work around the urge to get high.
Medication: Medication in the form of nicotine patches, gums, opioid treatments, or for alcohol has proven effective. However, it is essential for recovering patients to inform doctors when they consult them for non-addiction problems. This will ensure that the consulting physician does not prescribe any drugs that could potentially send you back to a relapse.
Long term: While the above methods are efficient, for a long term recovery, it is essential that the patient work with the doctor to get a tailored treatment plan for maximum efficiency in controlling the urge and not react to trigger elements around.
There are a few tried and tested ways that have been efficient and effective in treating the problem of drug addiction. They are:
Residential Treatment or Drug Rehab centres: Drug rehab centers are the perfect place for drug or alcohol addiction treatment. In a residential program, you will be able to rely on constant blood work to track the progress of the decline in toxin levels in your body, let the doctor monitor your progress, and also make necessary changes to the treatment regime as and when required.
In residential programs, you’d be part of a social group that would discuss inner cravings and their attempts to look past the immediate need. This social setting lays the foundation for sobriety, even after leaving drug rehab. The doctor will also prescribe the necessary medications and exercises to help you get through the difficult withdrawal phase.
Day treatment or hospitalization: Day treatment or inhouse short term treatment regimes generally last between 3 to 6 weeks. This model of treatment was originally designed for alcohol abuse but was later altered to include opioid patients as well.
In this process, the patient receives a combination of inhouse treatment for a duration that is coupled with mandatory sessions with the support groups and outpatient treatment at the hospital.
Outpatient treatment: The outpatient treatment program is not as effective as the inhouse ones but is significantly cheaper. It is often recommended to those who have a job and have an extensive social circle to depend upon. Outpatient treatment depends upon social groups and medications.
Self Help Groups: Studies show that cognitive behavioural change is the root cause of the success of self-help groups. In this, a group of functioning individuals from different walks of life come together and share their experiences on why they are here and what they are doing to remain drug-free. These social settings set a communal directive for willing patients to overcome the urge to consume drugs as a group that holds each other accountable.
There are a lot of ways in which one could look at drug abuse and treatment; it is essential to know that the journey will be long, but the results after the journey are fruitful. Consulting a medical practitioner or a certified therapist to discuss the problem and discuss the next steps is the first step.
The role of a family and its support in a patient’s life is very important. The patient should be aware that the family harbors no ill thoughts towards his actions towards addiction and wishes to see him recover. The members of the family could attend social gatherings with the patient, attend self-help groups, visit them regularly in partial or complete inhouse treatments.
It is seen that the chances of relapse are significantly lesser in patients who have a good relationship with their immediate family members.
To learn more about treatment options to overcome drug or alcohol addiction, call us now @ +919611194949.
We help you walk on the path to holistic wellness by destigmatising dependency and treating it as 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.
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