Many people have no understanding as to why or how other people become addicted to drugs. The stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse keeps many hurting people from getting help.
It is easy to cast judgment on those who are suffering from being addicted by drugs, says things like, “they lack moral principles, or they just don’t have any willpower to stop using.”
The reality is that drug addiction is a complex disease and even with the best of intentions because drugs change the brain it makes the thought of stopping become a feeling of hopelessness.
By educating patients and their family members about brain chemistry and how drugs can impact the mind, body, emotions, and spiritual self the stigma will dissolve. Once this happens, there will be no shame in seeking treatment and more addicts will begin to understand that they can recover from drug addiction with help.
Steps to Addiction:
- The first step is to admit that you have a problem with drugs and seek professional help.
- Once you can see that no one is expected to live this life alone and trust in others that are willing to help you, then you can take next step.
- The next step offers hope, and that comes from believing that you are loved and that there is a higher power outside of self. When we can surrender all and let the pain of the addiction go, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A common saying is, “Let go and Let God.” Mastering the letting go of what we had control over or what had control over us is the result of many life lessons.
You may feel alone, but you are not alone in the midst of grips of drug addiction.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older who needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Out of the 2.6 million, only 11.2 percent of those who needed treatment received treatment at a specialty facility.
Let’s look at the story of Mary who is a single mother of three little boys, ages 5, 7, and 10. Mary was visited by a social worker from child protective services with the Department of Human Services. Mary was open and receptive to the social workers coming into her home because in her eyes everything was going okay.
Mary began using pain medication for her back which was injured in a car accident a year ago. She found herself using the medication daily whether she had severe pain or not. She had even taken some from her mother’s pain medicine when she ran out of hers resulting in taking more medication than prescribed.
So when the social workers asked Mary why she was unable to get up in the morning to help her children get ready for school and fix them breakfast, Mary remembered drinking alcohol a couple of nights a taking her pain medication just a couple of days ago. She thought it was a problem for just a couple of mornings.
However, it was several days over the past six months. She realized that her boys finally felt comfortable enough to tell the teacher that his mommy did not get out of bed to fix them breakfast and they were hungry. Her oldest son Jason, age 10, stated he was unable to wake up his mommy, and he was worried about her.
When the social worker explained this to Mary, she realized that she did have a problem which was hurting her children and that she needed help with her drug addiction.
How does addiction become a problem?
The following list is just a few ways that addiction can build up gradually over time to become a problem that impacts not only the addict but the people they love.
Many patients are like Mary and not fully aware of the drug problem until something troubling arises and opens up their eyes as to what caused the problems.
Consider the following:
#1. Gradually you find yourself thinking about and using the drug as the drug begins to become more important than doing anything else without the drug.
#2. You use the drug to cope with daily stress, or it may energize you when you are feeling depressed or calm you when you are feeling anxious.
#3. You consider your life story and realize that you began using drugs because you felt like it would a void in your life. You also notice that when you take the drugs that you felt more positive about your life experiences and challenges.
#4. As the drug problem takes hold of your life, you find that you are frequently late for work, school, or other appointments. You also start to miss social or family events, and your work has been deteriorating both at home and your full-time or part-time job.
#5. You begin to notice that you have to take a higher dose of the medication to get the good feeling you once had before. (You have built up a drug tolerance.) If you began taking the drug for pain management, you would find you have had to increase the dosage to get the same pain relief. Even when you take more than prescribed the pain increases due to a hyperalgesia reaction from the medication, i.e., opioids.
#6. You take the drug to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. You find that when you go too long without it, you have symptoms such as; shaking, nausea, restlessness, sweating, or fever.
#7. You find yourself using more drugs than planned and for some reason, you can’t seem to stop using. The drug now appears to have control over your life thoughts and actions. You spend all day thinking about the drugs as to how to get them or recover after taking them.
#8. You find yourself giving up on activities that you used to enjoy and so things like hobbies, sports, and socializing are impacted because of your drug use.
#9. You continue to use the drugs even when you have knowledge of ways that it is hurting you from the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical domains.
If you see yourself aligning with any of the above thoughts or behaviors you may want to consider talking with your primary care physician about where to get help. Depending on the seriousness of the addiction you may have to be willing to go to an inpatient drug treatment center which provides a safe environment, assessment and care plan to help you in recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, let New Roads today. We offer different programs to help all individuals get better and we know that you will!
Contact us for more information here.
NSDUH (formerly known as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse) is an annual survey of Americans aged 12 and older conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services.