Living with a drug addict can be an emotionally and physically exhausting journey. It feels like losing a loved one to the clutches of drug addiction, watching them lose their identity and themselves to intoxication day by day. Handling an addict, especially from your immediate family, requires external support to guide your loved one back onto the path of normalcy, where they don’t feel the need for intoxication to survive. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of drug addiction treatment and how families can navigate this challenging journey.
What's the problem with drug addiction?
Drug addiction consigns the addict to a life dominated by substance abuse. The addict's sole preoccupation becomes their drugs, forgetting everything life has to offer except the addiction itself. They forget how to feel, work, play, express themselves, and show concern for others. A hostile world is all they see, and drugs seem to be the answer to all their problems.
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is the inability to stop using drugs in spite of numerous attempts. They forget how to feel, work, play, express themselves, and show concern for others.
Your loved one could have exhibited the behaviors below if you suspect them of being an addict:
- They would have developed a strong tolerance towards drugs, i.e., they would need to consume increasingly greater quantities of a drug to experience the desired effect.
- Each time, the amount they consume will increase to the point that it’s dangerous.
- They would experience strong withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug.
- They would continue consuming drugs regardless of any harm caused to themselves and to those around them.
- They will invest all their time to find ways to afford the drug; places to buy, and use the drug.
- They would need to consume drugs to function, for example, they would need it "to get going" in the morning.
The science behind drug addiction
Drugs release two chemicals in the brain: dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals flood parts of the brain, specifically the reward center, which gives rise to pleasurable or euphoric sensations in one’s body. Repeated release of large amounts of these chemicals results in the brain decreasing the number of chemical receptors, inhibiting the drug user's ability to experience the initial high.
Drug addiction requires increasing amounts to re-experience that initial high, time and again. As a result, addicts will increase their drug dosage in order to chase this feeling. Things that previously brought them pleasure like art, music, and being with friends and family; no longer can compete with the initial high of drug using.This process is called drug tolerance, which demands that the addict takes copious amounts to feel good if not just to feel alive.
Drug addiction or dependence is the result of the brain's physiological adjustment to expecting increasing serotonin and dopamine to function at normal levels. This is the reason why addicts cannot give up the drugs without medical intervention because addiction has become part of the natural process of living. To stop using drugs is similar to asking normal people to stop breathing.
Understanding the Root Causes of Drug Addiction
The experience of childhood trauma and the presence of underlying mental illnesses are two main reasons for addiction. Other factors might include:
- Unstable home environment, often due to drug abuse or mental illness of the parent or another family member.
- Less than nurturing home environment – usually shame-based relationships with parents and other family members.
- Use of drugs by friends / peers
- Behavioural problems combined with poor parenting
- Poor achievement in school
- Apparent ambivalence or approval of drug use in the school, peer group, or community
The Role of Denial in Drug Addiction
Denial is when your loved one becomes defensive about their addiction and will justify their right to use. If they have a legal prescription in hand, it becomes even easier for them to justify their actions. Denial is food for addiction because active addiction can only thrive in the logic of an addict’s denial. Denial has to be broken and realised in order for recovery to seep in. At Solace Asia, we have interventions that handle specifically with denial-breaking. Usually, group therapy helps to break your loved one's denial in a loving, caring, and social setting.
What is “Euphoric Recall”?
To keep the denial alive, addicts adapt a strategy of thinking called “Euphoric Recall”, which uses the positive memories of using to blot any “bad” feelings like loneliness, self-pity, and fear. They avoid the reality of their addiction, while ignoring the times their life turned into a nightmare because of their using behaviour. "Euphoric Recall" makes longing for the drug addiction stronger as it equips the addict with only a positive regard for the using days. It is necessary to replace "Euphoric Recall" with "Dysphoric Recall", or negative regard for using. This process starts when addicts encounter all the damages caused by their own addictive behaviour. We are the only rehab in the world to use a graphic tool to present to your addicted loved ones the problems of their addiction. It's called the "Solace Flower." It's vital to replace the "Euphoric Recall" with "Dysphoric Recall" because addiction returns easily to those who do not see the problem in using.
Why is active addiction so dangerous?
It’s dangerous because using has replaced living. In denying reality through drugs, addicts have slowly replaced their higher mental and emotional functions, such as their conscience and ability to love, for active addiction. When their spirit is broken, the capacity to feel human is lost. It's almost as if your loved one is over-taken by an outside force of destruction. But, with proper treatment, it's possible to gain your loved one back.
What will happen if they keep using drugs?
Ultimately, it will come down to only two options if your loved one is unwilling to seek help - they could either face death due to excessive use, or go to jail for the use of illegal substances.
Drug addicts choose drugs over all else; that includes family and friends. Ignoring all their responsibilities, their employment, hobbies, and interests, your loved one will end up dedicating all their time in trying to seek and use drugs.
This only leads to them losing out on friendship and family because of their choices. You will have to watch your loved one distance him/herself from your company, as the effects of the drugs ravage your loved one's body and mind. It's a painful and depressing process of change, isolation, disease, and certain death.
How can I help?
If either you or your loved one is willing to be helped, you can seek treatment at either a rehabilitation center or at a hospital.
A drug addict can be at different stages of their addiction. In order to intervene, we need to understand where the person is in their addictive journey. An addict will always be in a particular stage of change. Knowing where they are gives us an opportunity to intervene correctly.
Pre-Contemplation - I am not an addict - Most difficult to help this person.
In the pre-contemplation stage, the addict does not recognize their problem. They may be defensive and unwilling to consider change. This stage is often the most challenging for families, as it can be difficult to help someone who does not believe they need help.
Contemplation - I might be an addict - The door is open for help.
In the contemplation stage, the addict begins to recognize their problem and consider the possibility of change. They may start to weigh the pros and cons of their drug use and the potential benefits of recovery. This stage opens the door for intervention and help.
Preparation - I am an addict and I want to stop-
In the preparation stage, the addict acknowledges their problem and expresses a desire to change. They may start to explore different treatment options and make plans for recovery. This stage is a crucial time for families to provide support and encouragement.
Action - I am going to stop now - Need of a supportive and clinical environment
In the action stage, the addict takes concrete steps towards recovery. This may involve entering a treatment program, attending support group meetings, or making lifestyle changes to support sobriety. Families can support their loved one during this stage by providing emotional support and helping to facilitate their recovery efforts.
Maintenance - I am going to stay stopped - Constant motivation and encouragement.
Mostly, if you have come searching for help and not your loved one, they are in denial of their problem. You must be wondering how you would convince your loved one to come to us. At Solace Asia, we can perform what we call an intervention. Professionals are trained to use motivational interviewing, giving the drug addict the ability to reason their addiction themselves and prepare them for treatment and recovery.
Here, we have discussed denial and intervention in detail.
Understanding Withdrawal Management (Detox)
Your loved one will continue to use drugs in spite of extreme negative consequences . They cannot physically or psychologically function without drugs. When they are not using drugs, they face what is known as withdrawals, which tend to be extremely dramatic.
A worrisome area for a family is how their loved one would deal with withdrawal symptoms as the effects are somewhat traumatising. Without proper medical assistance, some withdrawals can cause severe pain such as with heroin and other opioids.
Some noticeable symptoms of withdrawals include, but are not limited to the following:
- Seizures and tremors
- Hallucinations and delirium
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Fear, paranoia, anxiety, and panic
- Pain, stiffness, muscle aches, and spasms
- High incidence of respiratory failure, Myocardial Infarction, convulsions, aggression, and suicidal attempts
- Increased appetite
- Sleep difficulties
The Role of Rehabilitation Centers in Drug Addiction Treatment
Rehabilitation centers play a crucial role in drug addiction treatment. They provide a structured environment where addicts can focus on their recovery, receive professional medical and therapeutic care, and build a strong foundation for long-term sobriety.
The Benefits of Rehabilitation Centers
Rehabilitation centers offer numerous benefits for individuals seeking recovery from drug addiction. These include:
- Access to professional medical and therapeutic care
- A structured environment that supports sobriety
- Opportunities to learn and practice healthy coping strategies
- Peer support from others who are also in recovery
- Assistance with aftercare planning to support long-term sobriety
Choosing the Right Rehabilitation Center
Choosing the right rehabilitation center for your loved one is a crucial step in their recovery journey. Consider factors such as the center's approach to treatment, the qualifications of their staff, the types of therapies and services they offer, and their success rates. It's also important to consider the needs and preferences of your loved one, as the best treatment program is one that they feel comfortable with and committed to.
At Solace Asia, with our extremely effective and scientific withdrawal management, the experience your loved one will go through will be extremely subtle to the mind and body. We have a host hospital with medical professionals who know how to deal with chemical detoxification, according to the latest scientific and international standards.
Before your loved one enters the treatment stage, they must let go of the physical dependence they have with drugs in their system. Every patient undergoes a managed withdrawal procedure to be free from the physical grip of drugs in order to understand the effects and consequences drugs have had on their lives when they come to treatment at Solace Asia. This is called detoxification.