The path to drug addiction is often accidental. You may start with prescription medication or occasional recreational use. Over time, it may become how you handle stress and uncomfortable emotions. That’s when it can get out of hand, and have severe negative consequences for your physical, psychological, and emotional health.
How Does Drug Addiction Occur?
For most people, drug addiction – what we now call substance use disorder – develops as an emotional or psychological coping mechanism. You use drugs for temporary relief – and it works.
Therefore, you keep doing it.
But there’s a serious catch. Long-term drug use changes you. It rewires the part of your brain that determines what’s important. You begin to prioritize seeking and using drugs over the things that matter most. You may choose drug use over work, family, and friendship – without realizing that’s what’s happening.
Long-term drug use also changes your body. Prolonged exposure to drugs damages your heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, digestive system, musculoskeletal system, endocrine system (hormones), and your immune system.
You can live with these changes in your brain, behavior, and body for years – until something happens that opens your eyes. It may be a health, family, or work crisis – or it may happen out of the blue. However it happens, in that moment, you realize your coping mechanism no longer works. Instead of helping you manage stress and emotions, it causes pain and suffering – and not just for you. It also hurts the people who love you.
That’s the moment to decide whether to continue tolerating the painful cycles of addiction, or seek professional help to bring your mind, body, and spirit back into balance.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
If you suspect you’ve developed a substance use disorder, consult the following list. Do you:
- Experience intense cravings for your drug of choice
- Spend time planning how to acquire that drug
- Use that drug once a day or more
- Need to use more to experience the same effect
- Think about using instead of things like family, work, or school
- Spend money meant for things like food or rent on drugs
- Lie to friends and family about your drug use
- Drive while under the influence of drugs
- Take drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms
- Steal money or sell personal possessions to get money for drugs
- Withdraw from friends and family because of drug use
- Experience problems at work, home, or school because of drug use
- Continue to use drugs when you know they cause problems at work, home, or school
- Find yourself unable to stop using drugs
The only person who knows the real answers to these questions is you.
You may not have reached a crisis moment – yet. However, if you engage in the behaviors and experience the thoughts we describe in the bullets above, we encourage you to take a long look at them. Then be completely honest with yourself and decide whether it’s time to seek treatment for a substance use disorder.
What Are The Best Evidence-Based Treatment Methods for Substance Use Disorder?
If you know it’s time to address your substance use, we want you to know you’re not alone. Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that in 2020, over 40 million adults in the U.S. had a substance use disorder. In real terms, this means you probably know more than one person who knows what you’re going through.
Data from the NIH also shows that treatment works. The most effective therapies for SUD/drug addiction:
- Recognizes and adopts the disease model of addiction, in which the disordered use of substances is considered a medical condition, rather than a character flaw, a moral failing, or a lack of willpower
- Addresses the entire person, and works to heal the mind, body, and spirit.
- Integrates various modes of treatment – group and individual therapy and counseling, community support, lifestyle changes, family involvement, and in some cases, medication – into an individualized plan that’s dynamic, flexible, and can adapt to individual needs over time.
How Is Alcohol Abuse Different From Drug Addiction?
Alcohol is a mood and mind-altering substance that causes individuals to form a dependency when consumed frequently, similar to drugs. Alcohol abuse can negatively impact health, wellness, mental health, financial health as well as relationships.
Get Help For Drug Addiction At The Ridge Ohio
At The Ridge, we embrace the concept of integrated, comprehensive treatment. Our holistic approach is entirely based on what you need to achieve your vision of life without substance use. When you arrive, we conduct a full medical and psychiatric evaluation.
We listen to you, learn about your goals for treatment, and work with you to create a plan tailored to leverage your strengths and address your challenge areas. Your plan will give you the tools you need to start your recovery journey with the best possible chance of living the life you choose, free from the cycles of addiction.