Drug problems take many forms, from the teenager whose habitual weed use an effort to cope with emotional trauma or the car accident survivor who became hooked on prescription painkillers during their recovery. All individuals are deserving of compassion and professional treatment to help them get sober. If you’re worried about your own drug use or the drug use of a loved one, it’s important to educate yourself about the nature of addiction and learn how you can help more effectively.
Do I have a drug problem? At what point does use turn from recreational to habitual? The answer to that question is highly personal. Addiction is not a switch that is suddenly flipped in the brain. Instead, it’s a series of behaviors that develop over time. When it comes to getting treatment, the only criteria required is a recognition of the problem and a strong desire to change. Some things to ask yourself:
- Do I need drugs to function?
- Have I tried to quit before but have been unable to do so?
- Do I obsess about drugs, or spend an inordinate amount of my time either thinking about them, getting them or using them?
- Have I been isolating myself from concerned friends and family members who don’t either use themselves or enable my use?
- Have I been doing worse in school or work as a result of my drug use?
- Have I been getting into trouble with the law, or putting myself in dangerous situations?
- Do I keep using even though it’s affecting my health, my finances or my relationships?
An affirmative answer to any of the above questions may indicate that a drug problem is present.
How and why people become addicts is not fully understood. Why are some able to drink socially or experiment with drugs without consequences, while others develop lifelong problems? Several answers have been proposed by the scientific community, but none provide a full explanation. Ultimately, whether or not someone develops a drug problem will depend on a combination of the following:
- Genetics: Family history has been implicated in addiction, suggesting there may be a genetic component to habitual drug use. However, no one single “addiction gene” is known or likely to exist. Rather, it is more probable that several different genetic factors combine to increase the likelihood that someone will develop a drug problem. This also means there is no such thing as natural “immunity” — almost everyone possesses at least a small genetic predisposition to addiction.
- Environment: How and where we grow up plays a large part in who we are — when it comes to addiction, this is no exception. Lack of parental involvement, peer pressure, abuse and neglect are all contributing factors that can lead to the development of a lifelong drug problem.
- Past trauma: From veterans suffering from PTSD to children who grew up in abusive households, personal history can play a large role in one’s potential for developing a drug addiction. For these people, drugs and alcohol are away of numbing themselves to the point that they can forget the pain of the past.
- Mental or behavioral health issues: Approximately 53% of drug users also suffer from depression, bipolar disorder or other mental/behavioral health issues. Whether it’s because effective medical care is not available or because of the persistent stigma around psychiatric disorders, many people self-medicate for these conditions.
Ultimately, how we understand addiction affects how we treat it. Providing compassionate, effective care requires a consideration of each of these factors holistically. Recovering from an addiction is about more than just avoiding drugs or alcohol — it involves getting to its root causes and giving individuals the skills to overcome them.
Addiction and Stigma
One of the most persistent barriers to accessing treatment is the stigma surrounding addiction. As with many mental and behavioral health disorders, many individuals still have a tendency to view addiction as a personal or moral failing. As a result, many people will go to great lengths to deny they have a drug problem, both to themselves and to others. While they may be deeply ashamed of their drug use, they will continue to believe it’s a problem they have under control.
One of the main components of addiction recovery is an ongoing, open discussion about drug abuse, its effects and its root causes. If this conversation could be expanded to include society at large, perhaps more people could get the help they need.
The first step in getting help is admitting to yourself, “I have a drug problem.” Truly confronting the issue can help you start on the strongest path to recovery. When you’re ready to make that commitment, 12 Keys Rehab will be there for you. In our south Florida facility, we have helped countless addicts leave their drug problems behind with sophisticated recovery programming and compassionate care.
Our clients work with knowledgeable counselors and case managers to identify and address the various root causes of their addiction in a welcoming, non-judgmental environment. Throughout treatment, your needs and your comfort will be managed as you do the challenging work of getting sober and developing tools to stay that way.
Get started by calling our intake hotline today. Team members are available around the clock to help you begin your recovery.
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