What is the best way to recover from drug abuse?

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What is the best way to recover from drug abuse?

21 December, 2020Articles, News

How do you recover from drug abuse ? The question is of course multifaceted and complex because the definition of drug addiction is in itself complex.

Lets take a look at some commonly used definitons;

“Addiction is a disease that affects your brain and behavior. When you’re addicted to drugs, you cannot resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause.

Drug addiction isn’t only about heroin, cocaine, or other illegal drugs. You can become addicted to alcohol, nicotine, opioid painkillers, sleep and anti-anxiety medications, and other legal substances”.

In order to gain a better understanding of addiction, we need to look at drug addiction vs. drug abuse. Drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways that are not prescribed by a registered medical practitioner or you might use more than the prescribed dose or you may be able to use substances like cocaine or alcohol recreationally or in moderation without it having a major impact on your life. You may abuse drugs to enhance happy feelings, cope with stress or to avoid reality. Drug abuse may lead to risky behaviour and legal or interpersonal problems, or problems with work. Quite often, drug abuse leads to addiction. It may not always be easy to tell when someone you care about crosses the line from drug abuse into full-blown addiction. The difference between abuse and addiction is defined by the number of diagnostic criteria met as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by physicians and court systems alike.

Drug abuse is signified by experiencing one or more the following issues in the past year:

  • Legal problems caused by drug abuse or behaviours under the influence
  • Physical harm to others caused by the individual’s use of drugs and/or his behaviors under the influence (or lack of action caused by use of drugs)
  • General inability to manage responsibilities and to do what is necessary at home, school or work
  • Ongoing use of drugs despite continued problems in these and other areas caused by drug abuse

If you experience three or more of the following issues within a 12-month period, you meet the criteria for a diagnosis of addiction:

  • Onset of withdrawal symptoms (physical and psychological) when without the drug of choice
  • Using larger and larger amounts of the drug of choice in order to achieve the same results experienced initially
  • Less interest in old hobbies and interests or career/school pursuits
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Patterns of behaviour that revolve solely around getting or staying high
  • Multiple attempts to cut down or stop drug use without success
  • Continued use of drugs and alcohol despite continued and growing problems related to their use

Addiction is when you can’t stop using a substance because there have been physiological changes in the body where “want” becomes “need”. You are unable to control your using, even when you know you are causing irrepable harm to your body, mind and spirit. Even when it causes financial, emotional, and other problems for you or your loved ones – you are unable to stop using. That need to aquire and use drugs takes over your entire life and you are obsessed and addicted.

Your brain is wired to make you want to search for experiences that result in positive feelings, so you’re motivated to repeat them over and over again. The drugs that may be addictive, work on your brains reward system. They overpower your brain with a chemical called dopamine and this results in a feeling of heightened and extreme pleasure. So you keep repeating the process in order to keep feeling good. Over time, your brain gets used to the higher levels of dopamine and you end up needing to take more of the drug to get the same “good” feeling. Other pleasurable aspects of your life fade in comparison, they produce less pleasure so you focus continually on the drug abuse – and eventually abuse becomes addiction.

When you use drugs over a long period of time it can cause changes in other brain systems, which lead to changes in judgement, decision-making processes, memory, our ability to learn and our personal morality.

Chronic drug abuse problems are often perceived to be less devastating than drug addiction but the fact is that ongoing use of illicit substances can be just as damaging to a persons life. For that reason, treatment services are available to those who struggle with either issue. When it comes down to it, however, no matter what the specifics, consequences of chronic drug use and addiction can be damaging to every aspect of an individuals life, and if moderation of that use is impossible alone, then treatment can help.

Getting better from drug addiction can take time. There’s no cure, but treatment can help you stop using drugs and stay free from them. Your treatment may include counselling, medicine, or both. Talk to your doctor to figure out the best plan for you.

Addiction requires individualised treatments that address the symptoms and underlying causes of the disease, as well as the consequences that substance use has on different areas of a person’s life. This includes their ability to socialise, their physical and mental health, and consequences at work, home, school, or with the law.

There are many types of therapy available to effectively treat addiction. Treatment commonly consists of a combination of group and individual therapy sessions either as an inpatient at a registered rehab centre, or if this is not required, then as an out-patient in the care of an experienced therapist or addiction counsellor. There are many different therapeutic methodologies which can be used to treat addiction. We will discuss some of these.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT can be applied in the treatment of many different types of problematic substance use. People treated with CBT techniques learn to recognise and change their maladaptive behaviours and it can help with coping skills, with identifying risky situations and what to do about them, and it is also useful in preventing relapses.

12-Step facilitation therapy is another methodology used to treat addiction. It aims to promote continued abstinence by engaging people in recovery with 12-Step peer support groups. Meetings are hosted by several different 12-Step fellowships varieties, including Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous amongst others.

Dialectal Behavioral Therapy or DBT can be adapted for many substance abuse cases, but mainly focuses on treating severe personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder. DBT works to reduce cravings, help patientsto avoid situations or opportunities to relapse, assists in giving up actions that reinforce substance use, and aims to help people learn healthy coping skills.

Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy or REBT helps patients understand their own thoughts and then helps to develop better habits and thinking in more positive and rational ways and gain healthier emotions. The base for REBT is the idea rational thinking comes from within; external situations are not what give one the feeling of “happy” or “unhappy”.

At Crossroads Recovery Centre we apply a number of these methods with people in an inpatient treatment process which has delivered remarkably positive results. The road to recovery from drug abuse is not always an easy one. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s just a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.


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