Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Drug Addiction: Understanding How Addiction is Effecting Your Loved One

Finding out that someone you care for deeply is suffering from drug addiction can be challenging. You watch as they slowly delve deeper into addiction and what appears to be no regard for how it affects their personal relationships. While it may seem as though your loved one has checked out and cares about nothing but getting high, the truth of the matter is that addiction is a complex disease of the brain.

It is not until you fully understand how addiction affects your loved one that you’re able to reach out to them and get them the help they need.

Addiction is Not What it Seems

From the outside looking in, it may seem as if your loved one lacks the willpower and moral principles to stop using drugs. You assume that they can stop using anytime they please. However, for some reason they choose not to. However, the truth is that someone who has become addicted to drugs is suffering from a complex disease. Quitting essentially will require more than a strong will or moral principles. Because of the affect that addiction has on the brain, your loved one believes they need the high to sustain a decent quality of life.

Drug Addiction Defined

According to MayoClinic, drug addiction is referred to as a chronic brain disease that causes the individual to become dependent upon the use of drugs. Despite what the consequences might be for their use of substances, the brain tricks the body into believing it is a necessity. Addiction is certainly not something that happens after the first use (in most cases). Drug use is voluntary in the beginning; however, as chemicals in the brain change it hinders the individual’s sense of self control.

The Brain and Drug Addiction

Drugs contain certain chemicals that interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate properly. Drugs have the ability to disrupt the nerve cells that are responsible for sending, receiving, and processing information. Clinical studies show that this happens in one of two ways: either by taking on the form of the brain’s natural chemical messengers or through overstimulation the “pleasure circuits” of the brain.

The more a person uses drugs, the more the brain begins to adapt to the various changes. The chemicals found in drugs send signals to the reward part of the brain. When the “high” wears off, it leaves the user feeling incapable of enjoying life as they once did. As a result, the brain begins to crave the chemicals from the drugs in order to reach a level of pleasure again.

Getting Help for Your Loved One

Now that you see that addiction is not something that your loved one can control, it is best to try and get help for your loved one. It must be understood however, that in most cases, they are not aware that they have a problem and may be resistant to your request that they get help. Below are a few factors to keep in mind as you reach out to your loved one:

•  Come from a place of love – no matter how their drug use may be affecting your life it is important that you don’t scold them or come from a place of anger. Compassion is your best tool when talking about addiction.

•  Offer Your Support – addiction requires more than just a talk, it will require the support of others. Be sure to offer your support to your loved one so that they don’t feel alone.

•  Give it Time – you can’t rush the process, as recovery efforts are best when your loved one is doing it willingly. If they’re not receptive to what you have to say, give it time.

Seek Treatment

Seeking treatment for drug addiction is the next step for your loved one. There are various options for treatment that include addiction therapy, rehab facilities, and in some cases, medication for underlying issues or mental disorders. If your loved one is ready to get help, go over the various options with them and help them make the decision that is best suited for them. Also, look into treatment options for yourself so that you can learn how to help your loved one as they begin their recovery process.

The road to recovery or your loved one is certainly going to be a challenging one, but with you by their side, the chances of full recovery are more likely. If you suspect that a friend or family member is suffering from drug addiction, don’t sit by and watch their lives spiral out of control. Educate yourself on addiction and reach out to them about your concerns for their well-being. When they’re ready, support them in getting the help they need from the right medical professionals.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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