How to Recognize and Deal with Addiction
Life can sometimes seem very overwhelming for many reasons. We are asked to cope with ever increasing workloads, hectic social calendars and family life without time to stop and ask ourselves if we’ve taken too much on or whether or not we’re running out of steam.
It’s little wonder that people are finding it more difficult to relax and unwind, with a study by The American Institute of Stress showing that eighty percent of all workers felt stress on the job, with nearly half that figure claiming that they felt as if they needed help to cope with their feelings. However, some people are turning to less acceptable methods to cope with their stress and a worrying trend of addictions are starting to make themselves felt amongst professional people.
Learning how to recognize and deal with addiction can help prevent more serious problems.
What is Addiction?
Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic disease. It is progressive, continuous, and long-term. Alcohol or drug abuse means that a person has control over whether he or she drinks or uses. Alcohol or drug dependence means that a person has lost all control over his or her drinking or using behavior. Multiple types of programs exist to help someone deal with addiction and dependence. For more serious dependence, medically supervised detox can be necessary while abuse can often be managed at an outpatient level.
Do I Need to Deal with Addiction?
People who suffer from addictive diseases engage in compulsive behavior and gradually lose control of their lives. They continue to drink or use drugs, and even when they know it will lead to negative consequences. They tend to have low self-esteem and almost inevitably suffer from anxiety and depression. Learning how to deal with addiction includes learning how to cope with anxiety and depression.
If someone in your life suffers from addictive disease, you have experienced his or her extreme behavior, ranging from depression to exhilaration. You probably have also experienced the person’s state of denial (“I can quit anytime” or “I don’t have a problem”), dishonesty, frequent disappointments, and the series of ruined relationships. These are the hallmark behaviors when a person suffers from addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Recognizing these signs are a clear indicator that it is time to deal with an addiction. The sooner you or your loved one begins therapy to overcome addiction, the greater the likelihood of successful recovery.
Who Is Affected by Addictive Disease
Alcoholism and drug addiction affect people from all parts of society. Victims include stay-at-home moms, teenagers, corporate executives, students at top universities and physicians in your local hospital. They may be teachers at your neighborhood school or salespeople at local hardware store. Anyone can be affected by addiction.
Studies have shown that there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. About half of all alcoholics had an alcoholic parent. Men seem to be more vulnerable than women to the alcoholic traits of their parents. Women may be more affected by factors in the environment (such as financial and life circumstances) than by inherited factors.
The Physical Side of Addiction
Chronic alcohol abuse produces long-lasting damage in many areas of brain function. It damages the abstract thinking, problem solving, memory, and physical dexterity. It also impairs verbal, visual, and spatial ability. The extent of damage to the brain tissue depends on the extent of heavy alcohol abuse. After one learns how to deal with addiction, a certain amount of physical healing is possible.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The main types of commonly abused prescription drugs are:
Painkillers: Particularly opioids such as codeine and NSAIDs like ibuprofen.
Tranquilisers: Valium, Xanax and other sleeping tablets, typically only prescribed for short term usage.
There are also incidences of people also becoming addicted to common over the counter medications like antihistamines or cough medicines.
Why Prescription Drug Abuse Occurs
Commonly, such an addiction might occur after a period of ill health in which the patient is given a particular medication, usually a painkiller, and finds that they like the feelings of relaxation or calmness it gives them so much that when the time comes to stop taking them they simply don’t.
Similarly, it might occur in a situation where somebody is under a lot of stress at work or at home, they seek help from their Doctor who prescribed something to help them sleep or something for their anxiety which quickly becomes addictive.
Any drug which is taken under the instruction of a Doctor or Nurse is perfectly safe, as long as the instructions are followed and the patient stops taking the medicine when they are told to. It only becomes dangerous when it is continued above the recommended daily dosage, or the person fails to stop taking it at all. Dependence can develop suddenly when it is noted by the patient that they need to take more and more of a particular drug to get the same effect, this tends to be more common amongst patients who are taking painkillers or tranquilisers.
Prescription and illegal drugs with psychoactive side effects target the brain and can change a person’s mood. This causes these drugs to be potentially addicting. Some people think that if a doctor has prescribed a drug, it is not addictive. This is not true.
It is important to tell your doctor if you:
- Are an alcoholic (using or in recovery)
- Have ever been addicted to any drug
- Have taken more than the prescribed dose of a prescribed drug
- Took a prescribed drug for a long time
- Take a prescribed drug with alcohol
Addictive disease is often progressive and can be fatal. Thankfully, with proper treatment, it is possible to deal with addiction and recover.
How to Deal with Addiction
The first stage of dealing with any sort of addiction is acceptance and admittance. First, to accept there is a problem and then to admit it, to a trusted friend, close relative or a professional therapist who can offer help and advice on what to do. This is the biggest hurdle that needs to be overcome.
There is help for prescription drug abuse sufferers available depending on the severity of the addiction and how much it is affecting life, from counseling and therapy with trained experts to inpatient treatment which will offer a complete and tailored withdrawal plan.
Typically, a slow, tapered and steady withdrawal from medications is recommended, alongside the appropriate talk therapy. Antidepressant medication may be prescribed to help with some of the symptoms.
Very often simply talking through problems with someone who can listen, such as a properly qualified therapist is enough to begin to understand why the addiction has occurred and how best to stop it.
Relapse is Possible
During the course of a withdrawal plan, it is common for many people to perhaps suffer an occasional relapse. It’s important to remember that while it can happen, it isn’t the end of the world and can be overcome once more with the right support in place.
If stress, whether in the home, or in the workplace has been a major cause of drug abuse occurring then it’s important to take steps to strike a good balance in life and find a way forward, whether it be something simple like a temporary reduction in duties or working hours, or simply finding more time at home to sit and relax.
All these things can help with the sometimes insurmountable feelings of pressure that people feel when their life has become like a pressure cooker. Don’t suffer in silence, open up and talk to someone if anything here strikes a chord. You can learn to cope and deal with addiction. Help is out there, reach for it.
The first phase of treatment of addictive disease focuses on the physical effects of alcohol or drug use. This phase can include detoxification or treating life-threatening diseases such as liver failure.
Since addictive disease is primarily a brain disease that results in behavioral symptoms, the main treatment is psychosocial therapy. Treatment usually focuses on the irrational feelings and distorted thinking that accompany chronic alcohol or drug abuse.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are chronic diseases. To deal with addiction often requires a lifetime recovery plan. Most successful treatment plans involve ongoing, long-term participation in self-help groups. Patients who have been hospitalized for treatment may continue group and individual psychotherapy after they leave the hospital.
Treatment of the Family
Addiction affects every member of the patient’s family. As the disease progresses and the patient continues to drink or use, it causes a range of emotional, spiritual, and financial problems for almost everyone involved, including family, friends, and coworkers. When the family is ready to begin the recovery process, Al-Anon and Alateen are excellent resources. A qualified family therapist who understands the process of addiction and recovery may also be consulted to work with the family.
What to Do When an Alcoholic or Addict Won’t Stop
Sometimes the alcoholic or addict is in such a strong state of denial that the best alternative is to arrange an intervention. This process involves arranging for professional interventionist to organize a meeting of the family, friends, and employer of the patient. The interventionist helps the group prepare a confrontation that will be followed by the patient entering a treatment center.
The patient’s family and friends usually write a brief statement describing how the drinking or drug use has affected them. The interventionist and the group then meet with the patient and read their statements to the patient with the guidance of the interventionist. These interventions, when managed by professionals from respected treatment organizations, are a first step to deal with addiction. And, they often result in successful treatment of the addiction.
Help Yourself or Someone You Love Deal with Addiction
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