Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Substance abuse and addiction are chronic and potentially life threatening diseases with the power to affect an entire family and community. Addiction is characterized by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol despite experiencing negative consequences as a result of substance use. Addiction (in this case, chemical dependency specifically), is defined in multiple ways. At it's core, however, it can be defined as 'the inability to predict with any reliability what will happen once a substance is picked up and ingested.' In other words, one may be able to promise him or herself (or others) that "I am just stopping for one drink," and may have every intention of doing so. What happens next is often unpredictable ~ one drink consumed and call it a night, OR one drink consumed and another and another, and soon hours have passed, blackouts may occur and stopping for one drink has turned into yet another nightmare of a night for addict and family/friends waiting for their safe return.  Substance use is often employed as a way to escape emotional pain or distress; while it may work in the short term, the distress will certainly return, perpetuating a dangerous cycle. There is no way to determine who will become an addict, making any drug use life-threatening. There is solid research, however, that clearly shows a genetic link to addiction. If alcoholism or addiction of any kind is in one's family history, one is at far greater risk for becoming an addict once that first substance is picked up.  Furthermore, individuals who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse are also often struggling with anxiety or depression. Addressing an addiction requires more than good intentions and can be incredibly difficult, even for those who are ready to commit to change. Relapse is now considered a common experience in the recovery process rather than the exception, and although it doesn't have to be viewed as a disaster or reason to abandon sobriety, it should be considered a serious red flag. One must examine the relapse behavior carefully and understand how it could have been prevented. I personally struggle with the 'relapse is part of recovery'  sentiment, because my experience of working with individuals struggling with addiction for 25 + years is that no one knows if they have another recovery in them. One relapse can end a person's life, can ruin families,  can result in loss of jobs, etc. I am concerned that seeing relapse through the lens of  'it's part of recovery,' gives people permission to relapse. A relapse is a departure from recovery. I understand that it can be an  opportunity to identify powerful triggers and tools for combating urges, but not everyone who relapses gets the opportunity to learn that lesson. Furthermore, there are many healthier ways, without the inherent risks of relapse, to learn about triggers and combating urges. Addiction is a life-threatening disease. Please take it seriously.  Fortunately, treatments are available to help people counter addiction’s powerful disruptive effects. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Additionally, because addictions have the power to affect all members of a family, their engagement in treatment can be a crucial aspect of both the healing process and maintaining sobriety. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each person’s abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without abuse. According to the NIAAA, answering the following four questions (CAGE assessment) can help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem:

  • Have you ever felt you should CUT down on your drinking?
  • Have people ANNOYED you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or GUILTY about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (an EYEOPENER) to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

One "yes" answer suggests a possible alcohol problem. More than one "yes" answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists. If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.

I specialize in working with individuals, couples, and families suffering from addictions.

Issues I can help you address:

  • Identifying addictive behaviors, cycles, and triggers
  • Develop tools for managing emotional distress without substance use
  • Understanding the psychological and physiological components of addiction
  • Repairing relationships negatively affected by addictive behaviors
  • Creating new and healthy patterns supporting sobriety
  • Assessing and creating a comprehensive treatment plan unique to you
  • Identifying and treating co-occurring anxiety or depression

  Contact me today to schedule an appointment.


Sources: http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/understand.html, http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/FAQs/...

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