Substance abuse and addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Chances are that you or someone you know has struggled with this type of problem. It stems from a variety of things, but some common causes and risk factors include having family members with a substance abuse problem, having a history of abuse, having a mental disorder like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder or having certain chemical deficiencies. Nobody is able to pinpoint an exact cause for substance abuse or addiction, though these risk factors make you more susceptible. This is an overview of substance abuse, why and how to get treatment and how to deal with withdrawal.
Substance abuse is the excessive use of drugs or alcohol. It is slightly different from addiction, though it starts the same in many ways. If you are abusing substances, you are using more than recommended (such as with Prescription Drugs), coming by them in illegal ways and doing dangerous things while under the influence. If you feel like you need drugs or alcohol to have a good time, have no interest in quitting and are putting your life, family, relationships and work in jeopardy for the substances, you are showing signs of abuse. Substance abuse can also lead to addiction, which is the physical dependence of drugs or alcohol and that can be even more devastating for your own health and to those around you.
Substance addiction, on the other hand, is a much more severe condition. With addiction, you are completely and physically dependent on the drugs or alcohol. You feel like you need them to survive or function on a daily basis and will do just about anything to get them. You steal money from your family, lie and cheat to get your next dose. You also have many of the signs as with substance abuse such as doing dangerous things like drinking and driving and putting your relationships on hold for the drug problem. With addiction, you are physically dependent so it is close to impossible to quit on your own. Treatment is going to be your best chance of recovering from your addiction. Keep in mind when you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, your body is going to take sobriety hard and withdrawal will be difficult.
Signs of Dependence
If you aren’t sure whether you’re abusing drugs or are addicted to them, you can usually by tell by looking for signs of dependence. Someone dependent on drugs or alcohol will use the word “need” a lot. You honestly feel like you need them every day and can’t live without them. Your body revolts hard against you during any sober period even if for just a few hours. You find yourself consumed by the drugs or alcohol and they are in your every waking thought. These are the most common signs of dependence and addiction.[divider]
Most drug treatment centers will offer a treatment method called detox. Detox (short for detoxification) is a way to help relieve some of the common withdrawal symptoms experienced during the first stage of your treatment. During detox, you will get medication therapy and be monitored to make this stage as bearable as possible. It won’t take away all of your withdrawal symptoms, but it can make them a lot easier to get through. Studies have shown that using detox as part of an overall treatment, the chances of succeeding are much higher and the chances of relapse and significantly lower. Detox will last as long as the worst withdrawal symptom do; typically between 2 and 6 days. Some may experience more intense withdrawal based on their drug problem, which will make it a little longer.
Signs of Withdrawal
About 5 or 6 hours after your last drug use, pill or drink of alcohol, your body will start missing the chemicals it is used to and go into withdrawal. You most likely have experienced this before but then began using again because the side effects were so miserable. In fact, having withdrawal symptoms is one of the main signs of being addicted to substances because it shows you are physically dependent on them. These are the most common withdrawal signs and symptoms you may experience:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Body Tremors or Shakes
- Mood Swings
- Violent Outbursts
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Sweating and Chills
Recovering from substance abuse or addiction is entirely possible, but you will get out of it what you put into it. If you are entering a drug rehab center not by choice, it is going to be more difficult. However if you make the decision to get clean and sober, you will find you have an easier time with the recovery process. In order to have a successful and effective recovery from substance abuse, you will have physical and psychological treatment. The drug rehab center wants to find out why you’re using drugs or drinking alcohol, including any history with abuse, violence, or genetic reasons why you must be susceptible to abuse and addiction. Mental disorders will also be diagnosed and addressed during the recovery period. All of this is important for success.
Treatment for substance abuse or addiction involves several different stages. After the initial stage where you give all your personal information and a treatment plan is created for you, comes the withdrawal stage. As mentioned previously, this could last a couple days to a week or longer depending on your circumstances. Next, will be the largest and most significant part of treatment which combines behavior and cognitive therapy, family therapy, support groups with your peers and one-on-one counseling sessions. The drug rehab counselors and nursing staff will address any medical issues you have and find the right treatment path for you.