Drug and alcohol abuse can offer an escape to people who are looking for a rush or a numbing sensation. Addiction clearly takes a visible toll on the body, but what people don’t realize is that addiction has many psychological aspects that cannot be seen on the surface. September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Recovery is about managing not only the physical addiction but the mental aspects as well.
Some people are more prone to forming addictions due to:
- Family history and genetic traits
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Neglect or other trauma during childhood
- Clinical or chronic anxiety, or mood disorders such as depression or Bipolar disorder
- Experimenting with drugs early in life
- The method of drug use (injections can be more addicting than smoking)
Drug addiction can occur over time. People may initially start using drugs or alcohol to have fun or fit in at a social event, to ease worries related to school or work, or to combat loneliness or feelings of inadequacy. Drug use can offer escape from overwhelming emotions. Addicts usually increase use when the high from the first drug is not as powerful.
Drugs cause physical sensations, however addiction is more complicated. The repeated use of drugs changes the brain’s patterns and reactions. Some of the psychological effects include:
- Spiked levels of dopamine create a pleasing feeling that the body comes to crave.
- Using the drug becomes automatic like other daily habits.
- Drugs alter the decision making and judgment parts of the brain, which lead to poor choices.
- Life without the drug does not feel as normal or manageable.
- Cravings take control over logic, and even the opinions of friends and family do not seem as important.
- The brain will find ways to excuse or rationalize drug use to meet the body’s demand for the drug.
- Due to impaired judgment from the drugs, users may not realize the extent of their own use and think they are still in control.
It is a common misconception that things have to get to the worst level before they can get better, but an addict can get help at any time—before they hit rock bottom. Overcoming a drug addiction is not just a matter of willpower. The combination of physical addiction and the changes caused in the brain require intense support and active treatment.
Even if a treatment does not work the first time, there is still hope. Many addicts require a few rounds of treatment before they get on the road to recovery, and it can be a lifelong process. While addiction is considered a disease, it is not only a physical problem that can be treated with medication. The underlying psychological reasons for the drug use must be addressed.
Nearly 65% of all individuals who suffer from addiction issues also have a co-occuring mental health diagnosis. It is important that, when seeking treatment, the co-occuring relationship is addressed. Sunrise Palms at Aventura Hospital at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center is an acute treatment setting that specializes in the treatment of co-occuring addiction and mental health issues. The facility offers personalized treatment for each patient. If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one, please contact us at 1-877-641-PALM (7256) or 305-682-5245.