Substance abuse or addiction is a broad term that encompasses the use of all psychoactive substances like alcohol, drugs, prescription opioids or any other chemically or naturally produced product that gives a high. Psychoactive substances lead to dependence syndrome, a group of cognitive, physical and behavioral conditions developed as a result of constant and frequent substance use. These conditions have distinguished symptoms which include a strong desire to use the drug, difficulty in controlling or curbing use, continuous use in spite of known harmful consequences, interruption or complete break from daily activities with priority on drug use, raised tolerance, and the experience of withdrawal symptoms in case use is stopped suddenly
An addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic, relapsing and progressive brain disease. This affects an individual’s personal, social as well as professional life and also scars their near and dear ones, including family, friends and colleagues. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 20 million Americans, aged 12 and more, had an SUD in the past. Of this, 14.5 million had problematic alcohol use and 7.5 million had an illicit drug use disorder. Looking at it in another way, it means that every 3 in 4 people in the United States has an SUD.
People addicted to substances may not realize that they are headed for a dangerous path unless they are made aware of it. However, whatever one may be addicted to, prompt treatment can restore not only functionality in life but also the quality of life.
Addiction treatment cannot be achieved on one’s own. An individual, dependent on substances, needs professional help to overcome an addiction and lead a healthy and meaningful life as before. At Medical Concierge, addiction treatment focuses on evidence-based treatment modalities and distinct and compassionate patient care.
How Addiction Works
All addictions begin with a single drink or hit taken on insistence from friends and peers or out of curiosity. With time, the effect of the substance changes the behavior of the user, making them lose control over their use.
Substance use infuses a substantial number of feel-good neurotransmitters, called dopamine, in the brain. This surge in dopamine levels constitutes the high that people feel when they use substances. As the brain gets used to a particular high, it directs an individual to experience a similar high over and over again. This makes an individual use the same substance in higher quantities or add more substances to the existing substance to create a mix that would give them the desired high.
Over time, with frequent use, the brain adjusts to the unnatural flood of dopamine by reducing the natural production of the neurotransmitter. The lower production leads to a less powerful high and the need to increase the amount to substance to experience the same high as before.
Further, the reduced levels of dopamine also lead to reduced levels of pleasure in things and activities once enjoyed. This leads to an individual shying away from their family, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances, adversely affecting the quality of life and leading to the development of mental disorders like depression. These circumstances again lead to increased usage, at times, to feel “normal” and at others to escape the feelings of despair in their lives.
Symptoms of Addiction
The symptoms and effects of an addiction can be devastating and overpowering. Because of this, it is important that an addiction is identified and treated at the earliest.
Though symptoms vary with the use of specific substances, there are some general symptoms that indicate that one is moving towards an addiction. Some symptoms that one should always be on a lookout for in their loved ones are:
- Symptoms of depression
- Frequent demands for money
- Disturbed eating and sleep patterns
- New social groups that have become important
- Missing personal or professional commitments
- Loss of interest in friends, families and activities once enjoyed
- Severe or uncontrolled mood swings, or sudden onset of anxiety or paranoia
- Changes in appearance like red, swollen eyes, unexplained weight loss, ignoring personal hygiene and appearance
If one observes these symptoms in their near and dear ones, they should immediately seek help on their behalf as timely treatment intervention always yields better results.
Advantages of Professional Rehab
Profession addiction treatment centers address the changes made in the brain by constant substance use to reduce the likelihood of a relapse. The primary advantages of a professional rehab are:
- Reduced rates of relapse
- Higher likelihood of a long-term recovery
- Improved relationship with self
- Improved relationship with near and dear ones
- Lower risk of indulging in criminal activity
A certified rehab undertakes all the best practices in addiction treatment. They know the treatment administered and what worked well for the patient. Therefore, in the case of a relapse, they make modifications to the original treatment plan to get better results. This helps eliminate the chances of hit and trial and using the same treatment plan as before.