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Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is very complex. It's characterized by compulsive--at times uncontrollable--drug craving, seeking, and use that persists even in the face of extremely negative consequences. For many people, drug addiction becomes a chronic problem and relapses are possible even after long periods of abstinence. Individuals who struggle with drug addiction do not set out to destroy themselves as well as everyone and everything in their path. Actually, these cataclysmic consequences are the effect of the vicious cycle of addiction and the hold it has on the user. Drug use and abuse may seem to avert emotional and physical pain by providing the user with a temporary and illusionary escape from, or way to cope with, life's realities. The sad truth is that more problems are created by using drugs, and are often more serious than the reality they were trying to avoid in the first place. Over time, a person's ability to choose not to take drugs can become compromised. Soon enough, the person rationalizes the need to use consistently and will do anything to get high.

Essentially, drugs are a pain killer. While they may provide a temporary escape from the user's problems they do not have any long term benefits and usually cause more damage than good. It is easy for a user to get caught in the vicious cycle of using drugs to alleviate pain and creating more pain by using. They now display the physiological symptoms of addiction. They become difficult to communicate with, are withdrawn, and begin to exhibit other strange behaviorisms associated with addiction.

The compulsion to use drugs can take over the individual's life. Addiction often involves not only compulsive drug taking but also a wide range of dysfunctional behaviors that can interfere with normal functioning in the family, the workplace, and the broader community. Addiction can also place people at increased risk for a wide variety of other illnesses. These illnesses can be brought on by behaviors, such as poor living and health habits, that often accompany life as an addict or because of toxic effects of the drugs themselves.

Because addiction has so many dimensions and disrupts so many aspects of an individual's life, treatment is never simple. Drug rehab is designed to help the individual stop using drugs and maintain a drug-free lifestyle, while achieving productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society. Effective drug abuse and addiction treatment programs typically incorporate many components, each directed to a particular aspect of the person's addiction and its consequences.

Attending drug rehab is absolutely essential to drug addiction recovery. If you or someone you care about has succumbed to the madness of drug dependency, that's the most important lesson you could ever learn. Drug rehab saves lives, and only those addicts who check themselves into professional drug rehab programs can expect to get sober and stay sober. Before you can get healthy, in other words, you've to get help.

Those in drug rehab, as might be expected, come from every walk of life. They are rich and poor, black and white, male and female, successful big shots and hard-luck nobodies, and everything in between. The common thread, of course, is drug addiction itself, and the importance of addiction treatment in effecting meaningful addiction recovery. If you're a drug addict, addiction treatment is your best shot at sobriety no matter whom you are and no matter where you're from.

A drug addict usually does not know they are out of control. They look at their drug-using peers and their own use appears normal in comparison. They need objective feedback on their behavior. It was once thought that an alcoholic or other drug abuser had to "hit bottom" before help could be offered and accepted. The belief was that a drug addict could only get better if they were self-motivated to change. This has changed to the view that a skilled professional counselor can motivate an addict toward recovery. This technique is called an intervention. Intervention is a process that helps an addict to recognize the extent of their problem. Through a non-judgmental, non-critical, systematic process, the drug addict is confronted with the impact of their alcoholism or drug addiction on others. The goal of intervention is for the addict to accept the reality of their drug addiction and to seek help. Most prevention and drug rehab facilities can help arrange an intervention and assist the addicted person and their family in finding appropriate treatment.

When drug use is stopped, drug withdrawal symptoms are typically experienced and they symptoms can be severe. The type and severity of one's drug withdrawal symptoms often depend on the drug being abused. The route of administration, whether intravenous, intramuscular, oral, or otherwise can also play a role in determining the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms.

Drug withdrawal symptoms range from mild to extreme. In the case of mild drug withdrawal, the person may experience nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, insomnia, and tremors. More serious withdrawal symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited too, fever, rapid pulse rate, heart palpitations, heavy sweating, respiratory distress, and hallucinations. Other extreme physical manifestations are difficulty walking, confusion, and the person may also have seizures. From mild to extreme, drug withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening.

Getting over drug withdrawal symptoms is an important part of drug addiction rehab and recovery. If a person is in constant discomfort, extreme or otherwise, it is difficult to move forward in the process of rehabilitation. Depending on the drug of choice used by the patient, medical professionals can design a treatment plan to help ease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and allow the patient to return to a more healthy state. This treatment includes medical intervention for drug detox and to curb withdrawal symptoms, mental health counseling, social services, and group therapy.

Once detox and drug addiction withdrawal have been completed it is time to focus on therapy, counseling, and one's personal education regarding drug addiction and how to maintain sobriety. The one thing most drug rehab facilities have in common is the use of counseling. Addicts have the opportunity to meet with qualified professional counselors to talk about their specific problems. This is an invaluable resource in the recovery process because it allows the addict to externalize emotional problems and set about finding a solution for them.

Drug addiction counselors are trained professionals who specialize in treating people with substance abuse or behavioral addictions. In most cases they have a degree in Addition Counseling. Many counselors are themselves recovered addicts who have decided to dedicate their lives to helping others who are in the same place they once were. Their personal experiences offer valuable insight for a recovering addict.

Counseling and education on drug addiction can do far more than help an addict stop using, although that is the primary goal. Trained counselors and staff members also help addicts heal themselves both physically and emotionally. Having a substance abuse problem causes real and lasting damage to your body, mind, and spirit. This can be, and mostly likely is, too much for one person to fix on his/her own. Meeting with and talking to a counselor or trained staff member can give an addict the tools to repair that damage.

Being an addict also does damage to your personal and professional relationships. The staff at a successful drug rehab program is armed with the tools to help mend those broken relationships. Some addicts report that being in treatment is the easy part of recovery. Having to return to the outside world is the hard part. This is where having a good counselor can lighten the load and prepares an addict for a healthy life once they leave the rehab.

Another component of drug rehab is relapse prevention. This part of treatment helps those who have suffered with the serious problem of drug addiction make a plan to prevent drug use in the future. Preventing a drug relapse is critical when it comes to drug addiction recovery. Individuals need to know different tools and steps they can take to ensure their hard work of drug addiction recovery lasts.

Drug addiction is sometimes a persistent and relapsing situation. This is why recovery requires changes in attitudes, behaviors, and values as part of relapse prevention techniques. Because of these issues, recovery is not a static situation; rather it is an ongoing process. Relapse occurs when attitudes and behaviors revert to ones similar to those exhibited when the person was actively using drugs or alcohol. Although relapse can occur at any time, it is more likely earlier in the recovery process. At this stage, habits and attitudes needed for continued sobriety, skills required for replacing substance use, and identifying with positive peers are not firmly set in stone. This leaves the recovering individual venerable to relapse.

It is important to note that relapse is often a part of the recovery process. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. The next item to keep in mind is that an individual is not suddenly struck drunk or stoned on drugs. There are numerous warning signs to watch out for. These warning signs are part of making a relapse prevention plan. These warning signs can be identified and recognized while the user is sober. Lastly, it is important to remember that there is hope for a recovering drug addict. All over the world people recover from drug addiction each and every day.

Relapse prevention is about recognizing the warning signs and addressing them before they become huge problems. There is seldom just one warning sign. Usually a series of warning signs build one on the other to create a relapse. It is the cumulative effect that wears the individual down. The final warning sign is simply the straw that breaks the camel's back. Unfortunately many of the individuals who relapse think it is the last warning sign that did it. As a result they do not look for the earlier and more subtle warning signs that set the stage for the final disaster.

Warning signs of drug addiction relapse:

  • desires to test personal control over drug or alcohol use
  • frequent exposure to "high-risk situations" that have led to drug or alcohol use in the past
  • inadequate skills to deal with interpersonal conflict or negative emotions
  • inadequate skills to deal with social pressure to use substances
  • physical or psychological reminders of past drug or alcohol use (e.g., drug paraphernalia, drug-using friends, money)
  • recurrent thoughts or physical desires to use drugs or alcohol

Once you complete drug rehab you can sustain your hard work for sobriety and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It's important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your drug addiction will lose its appeal.

  • Adopt a pet. Yes, pets are a responsibility, but caring for an animal makes you feel loved and needed. Pets can also get you out of the house for exercise.
  • Get involved in your community. Replace your addiction with drug-free groups and activities. Volunteer, become active in your church or faith community, or join a local club or neighborhood group.
  • Look after your health. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and healthy eating habits help you keep your energy levels up and your stress levels down. When you feel good, drugs are much less of a temptation. The more you can do to stay healthy, the easier it will be to stay sober.
  • Pick up a new hobby. Do things that challenge your creativity and spark your imagination.something you've always wanted to try.
  • Set meaningful goals. Having goals to work toward and something look forward to is a powerful antidote to drug addiction. It doesn't matter what the goals are.whether they involve your career, your personal life, or your health.just that they are important to you.

While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it's only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use:

  • Avoid bars and clubs, even if you don't have a problem with alcohol. Drinking lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, which can easily lead to relapse. Drugs are often readily available and the temptation to use can be overpowering. Also avoid any other environments and situations that you associate with drug use.
  • Be up front about your history of drug use when seeking medical treatment. If you need a medical or dental procedure done, be up front about your history and find a provider who will work with you in either prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary. You should never feel ashamed or humiliated about previous drug use.
  • Make a break from old drug buddies. Don't make the mistake of hanging out with old friends who are still doing drugs. Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, destructive habits.
  • Use caution with prescription drugs. Stay away from prescription drugs with the potential for abuse. Drugs with a high abuse potential include painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety medication.
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