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Addiction

 
 
 

Addiction

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Often categorized as a chronic disease, addiction can damage relationships with loved ones and ruin educations and employment.

There are many different types of addictions.

A worldwide report reveals that more than a billion people across the globe are addicted to cigarettes, 240 million are dependent on alcohol, and 15 million use heavy drugs.

Statistics show that five gamblers out of every hundred struggles with gambling addiction.

If left untreated, addiction can lead to the dissolution of a marriage, unemployment, and even death.

There are effective treatments for addiction, such as interventions and addiction therapists.

What is addiction?

An addiction is a dependence on a certain substance or action.

It is an abnormally strong craving often for things that are emotionally, physically, or financially unhealthy. 

That also answers the question, “what's substance abuse?”

Addiction can take different forms such as:

  1. Shopping
  2. Gambling
  3. Caffeine
  4. Sexual addiction
  5. Food addictions
  6. Strong reliance on drugs or alcohol

Addiction in men and women

As per various studies conducted throughout the years on the gender differences in terms of addiction, men usually take to drugs to become part of a group. The escalation is slow and they stabilize at low doses of drugs. They have longer periods of abstinence as compared to women but show more withdrawal symptoms.

Women mostly become addicts as a means to self-medicate. The escalation is rapid and women experience more side effects and more stress. They are also more likely to relapse sporadically.

Addiction in children and teens

Children and teens are prone to internet addiction, tobacco addiction & alcohol addiction and it is closely linked to depression. As per studies, the prevalence is more among boys than girls. As part of their learning, children of addicts also tend to resort to substance abuse easily having been exposed to their parents’ lack of self-control.

Common signs of addiction

There are many signs of addiction. While addiction comes in many different forms, most fall under the physical, behavioral, or emotional categories.

Addiction signs include but are not limited to:

  1. Missing work/school/important engagements
  2. Lying about the whereabouts or activities
  3. Legal problems
  4. Sudden change in sleep patterns
  5. Marital upset (arguing, betrayals, being overly critical or violent)
  6. Physical changes in appearance such as sunken cheeks, pale face, dramatic weight difference, dilated pupils
  7. Unexplained loss of money
  8. Irritability
  9. Stress and anxiety
  10. Unexplained crying
  11. Denial of the problem

How to define an addict and what are the different types of addiction?

DSM-5 defines the symptoms of addiction under the term substance dependence or abuse.

The most common types of addiction are as follows:

1. Alcohol addiction

It contributes to serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, liver and pancreas disease, cardiovascular issues and depression.

Heavy drinking often creates emotional havoc in the user's life.

2. Drug abuse

It is a serious addiction. Research shows that in the United States alone, 250 billion dollars is spent annually due to premature drug-related deaths.

Drug addiction can cause death, poor health, loss of employment and alienate friends and family.

3. Cigarette smoking

It is another deadly addiction that is estimated to cause 480,000 deaths annually in the United States.

Because cigarettes contain more than 7,000 dangerous chemicals, smoking is known to cause heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and basically contributes to poor health.

People often refer to other forms of addiction such as sex, pornography, food, shopping or gambling.

However, DSM-5 refers to these habits as impulse control disorders, not addictions.

What causes addiction?

Many factors contribute to someone's tendency for addiction.

The first-time use of an addictive substance is often voluntary and develops into a compulsive addiction over time. This is because of the feel-good dopamine and euphoria often triggered in the brain by drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol.

Childhood trauma or stress may incline one to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Similarly, an unexpected change in circumstance such as losing one's job, home, or going through a divorce may also trigger addictive behaviors.

Genetics and learned parental habits can also play a part in addiction.

Studies show that if one's parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the child is more likely to follow suit.

Once someone breaks the habit of abuse the brain begins to send out withdrawal symptoms, often described as an "inner nagging" feeling.

Withdrawal symptoms can also manifest physically through:

  1. Shaking
  2. Vomiting
  3. Anxiety
  4. Depression
  5. Seizures
  6. Flu-like symptoms

What type of addiction therapy is the best?

There are many types of addiction treatment therapies including:

  1. Behavioral Therapy
  2. Motivational Interviewing
  3. Contingency Management
  4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  5. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
  6. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

Out of these, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or CBT is very popular as it can be useful to treat a variety of addictions. With CBT treatment for addiction, it becomes easier for addicts to identify their behavior & risky situation, develop skills to cope and prevent relapse.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy works well for addicts as therapists or addict counselors can use it along with other techniques to treat other associated disorders and ensure well-being of the patient in the long run.

It is also one of the best substance abuse counseling techniques.

Addiction does not only affects the user. Families of addicts are put under stressful and emotional situations. In these circumstances, counseling for families of drug addicts or family addiction counseling can be helpful.

Medical professionals may also prescribe medication to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal and make detox a success.

Online addiction counseling is also available for those who need on-call, at-home counseling throughout the day.

How does addiction therapy help?

Addiction is just as emotional as it is a physical dependence on drugs. It is often the result of an emotional escape from past trauma or emotional issue.

By seeking addiction therapy, patients will be able to get to the root of the problem and find healthier outlets for what they are dealing with. Now you may wonder what is addiction counseling?

Well, it can take place in different forms:

  1. One-on-one
  2. With a partner
  3. With family

The task of an addiction counselor is to reduce feelings of anxiety in the addict, help them cope with relapse, make them learn about triggers and help them manage their physical as well as mental health.

What do substance abuse counselors do?

According to substance abuse counselor definition, they can help patients come up with a plan of action for banishing addictions.

Coming off of drugs or alcohol puts patients at high risk for relapse.

Counseling for addicts can help strengthen patients against a relapse, work through personal problems, and bring peace of mind.

Medical treatments for addiction

Detoxing is the initial step in recovering from addiction.

Patients are either cut off completely or weaned off of their addictions.

The detox phase is often when patients will feel the most withdrawal symptoms.

During the detox phase of addiction recovery, a medical professional may choose to use medications to aide in the treatment.

The most common medications for treating addiction are as follows:

  1. Naloxone, used to reverse overdoses caused by Opioids.
  2. Benzodiazepines or "Benzos", effective in treating alcoholism and withdrawals from alcohol.
  3. Clonidine, often used to treat alcohol or opioid addictions.
  4. Disulfiram is an oral medication taken to maintain the recovery of alcoholism by causing the user to have an intense, negative reaction to alcohol consumption.
  5. Acamprosate, another alcohol-fighting drug said to reduce cravings
  6. Methadone is one of the most popular Opioid medications that can be used both short and long-term.

How can I find a good addiction counselor?

You can ask for recommendations from family or friends but if that’s not an option then try searching for addiction counselors online or addiction counselors near me. It can be tough to decide and open up to an addiction therapist so you must do thorough research.

  1. First of all, you can select a good addiction psychologist or addiction psychiatrist for complete analysis of your addiction.
  2. Social workers and licensed professional counselors can also help you or someone you know but you need to carefully check their academic and professional credentials plus experience. For this, you can verify their license online which should be updated and active.
  3. In the next step, determine their field of expertise and see whether they know about the latest evidence-based treatment approaches for addiction.
  4. You can also check online reviews and finally have a one-on-one conversation with them on the phone to see whether talking to them feels right or not.
  5. After this, you can decide to meet the counselor or therapist and decide after the first few sessions whether to continue or not.

What to expect from addiction therapy?

If you are wondering what happens in addiction treatment then you should know that it doesn’t look anything like the way it’s portrayed in movies. There are different treatment programs that can be used in isolation or combined to solve the specific issues of an addict.

  1. Therapists usually try to ascertain the reason behind the person’s addiction e.g. what triggers them to indulge in it, what motivates them to continue and what stops them from abstaining.
  2. Then they may advise patients to keep a journal or encourage them to read books that can help in the process.
  3. Counselors also act as coaches who also keep track of the progress of the patient and motivate them to get better at improving their lifestyle.

How much does addiction treatment cost?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports the average cost of recovery for drug rehab is $4,700 per patient but the answer varies depending on individual circumstances, such as:

  1. Whether those seeking treatment have insurance
  2. Planning on attending rehab
  3. Want a therapist or counseling for addiction

Inpatient facilities can cost anywhere from $6,000-$60,000 USD, not to mention the medications that may be needed to help with recovery.

Many addiction counseling/rehab centers also accept insurance plans and offer financial aid and in-house financing options that can help reduce costs.

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