There are many people who use drugs recreationally or to combat certain illnesses and never become addicted. However, some find that they become addicted to their chosen substance and this leads to a range of problems in their relationships, work and community. At Creative Care, we are there to help you or a family member who has problems with drug addiction. It is very important to have a greater understanding about this problem, not in the least because the negative connotations associated with drug abuse often exacerbate the problem.
“The language of drug addiction is laced with many terms that seem to be designed to scare everyone.”
At the same time, it is important to not downplay an addiction. However, help is out there and there is no need for people to feel helpless, isolated or ashamed of what is effectively a multifaceted disease. Drug addiction is a combination of genetic, environmental, physiological and psychological factors, and treatment at Creative Care addresses all of these.
Why Do People Become Addicted?
People use drugs for recreational reasons all the time. It is important to remember that nicotine and alcohol are drugs too, for instance. Then, there are some that experiment with banned substances, often just to try it. Other people have issues with prescription medication. The reality is, however, that becoming addicted to a substance is not usually solely about how much or how often it is taken. Rather, it is about how the individual responds to this. If using a certain substance causes problems, then you must understand that you have an addiction.
Certain people seem to be more at risk than others, and there is no one single cause of addiction. Common causes include genetics, particularly if there is a family history of addiction, or traumatic childhood experiences. However, mental illness can often lead to substance abuse (although substance abuse can also lead to mental illness as well). People are individuals and unique, and they have unique reasons as to why they start to suffer from addiction.
The Development of a Drug Addiction
A person does not become addicted to drugs overnight. However, drug users often find they continue to use their chosen substance because they enjoy the effects, or because it helps them to mask problems in their lives. It is very difficult to see where regular and recreational use ends and addiction starts, unfortunately. Crossing that line is not a moment that can be pinpointed. It is also for this reason that early intervention is so important.
There are a few indicators that you could study to see whether you or a loved one has a problem with drugs. These include:
- If you use drugs to mask a certain problem, such as depression, anxiety, pain or traumatic experience, it is more likely that you will become addicted to it, as the substance becomes a means of escape.
- You will find yourself increasingly concerned with obtaining your next dose of drug, whatever it may be.
- You will notice negative effects on the parts of your life for which you don’t use drugs. This includes things such as school or work, overall performance and social relationships.
Drug Abuse Myths
At Creative Care, we work very hard to dispel some of the more common myths out there relating to drug abuse. We believe these myths to be non-conducive to the recovery of an addict, who should be treated respectfully and as someone with an illness, since that is what addiction is. Some of the most common myths include:
- Overcoming an addiction amounts to having willpower. We understand that it requires a tailored approach and that recovery takes a very long time.
- Addiction is an intractable, insurmountable disease. Although it is agreed that it is indeed a disease of the brain, it is one that you can get help with, and many in recovery go on to live full, happy lives. Methods such as drug and alcohol rehab, therapy, exercise and medication can be of great benefit to those recovering from addiction.
- An addict can only get better once they hit rock bottom. At Creative Care, we do not like to use negative language such as “rock bottom” anyway. Furthermore, we follow scientifically proven methods that have demonstrated that addiction can be managed even if the patient will not be ‘cured’ of their disease.
- If treatment hasn’t worked before, it will never work. It doesn’t matter whether you have never tried to get help, or whether this is your tenth time. Help is out there for you.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
It is very important to understand the difference between drug abuse and drug addiction. Knowing the signs of drug abuse is also very important, as this allows someone to get the early intervention they need—before they have full-blown addiction. However, if they tip the scales and enter the world of drug addiction, it becomes even more important to get help. The following signs and symptoms of drug addiction have been noted.
- Tolerance, which means higher dosages of drugs are needed to achieve the same effects.
- Withdrawal, which means people experience physical symptoms when they do not use their chosen substance for a period of time. It is very important to know the dangers of withdrawal, as these can be fatal. This is why it is never recommended to “go cold turkey” by yourself.
- Loss of control, which means that the act of obtaining more of an addict’s drug of choice becomes a compulsion, and they do things they do not truly want to do in order to obtain them.
- A desire to stop, but not having the ability to do so.
- A neglect of all other activities, including social relationships, professional responsibilities and previously enjoyed hobbies.
- An increased amount of energy, time and focus being spent on obtaining and taking drugs.
- Continued use, even when the negative consequences become plainly obvious.
Please contact Creative Care if you are worried about drug addiction, either for yourself or a loved one. We are here to help and to design a plan and program that will help the addict regain control of their life. We do this on an individual basis, meaning we don’t offer any one size fits all packages, as we don’t believe these to be effective.