Where to Start When Battling Addiction by Rachelle Wilber

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Many people might tell you that admitting you have a problem is the first step to battling addiction. Their intentions might be good, but does your journey to sobriety and recovery really start until you decide you want to live better? Knowing where to start when battling addiction is crucial to improving your odds of success.

Your Doctor

Your personal physician probably already suspects or even knows about your addiction, even if you’ve never mentioned it to them. It’s their job to help you with your physical health, and they will have access to more tools you might use than nearly anyone. Your conversations with your doctor are totally confidential, so this is a very safe place to start when battling addiction.

Find a Facility

Not all forms of addiction require going into a rehab facility. However, some might. There are facilities available, such as Awakenings Health and Wellness Centre that are top-notch in helping people dig deeper than the obvious superficial issues. Also, the right rehab center can dramatically improve your odds of getting past any addiction and have a better fighting chance at living a clean life ahead of you.

Friends and Family

This one can be tricky. Friends and family might be some of the people most likely to support you through your addiction battle, but some of them might also be the most judgemental. In fact, some relatives might even be contributors to your addiction. Turn to those you think you can trust.

Employee Benefits

You probably don’t want to tell your actual supervisor that you are battling addiction, but your employee benefits might have a hotline you can call privately. If your health insurance or other benefits include rehab programs or counseling of any kind, it might be at low or even no cost to you.

Spiritual and Religious Advisors

Individuals such as these may not feel qualified to help you with your addiction and recovery, and yet they might also truly want to help you. They might be able to point you in the direction of people and programs who can help you. So, whether it’s a priest, rabbi, or even a yoga teacher you study under, see if they have any referrals or connections you might use.

Help Is Out There

Battling addiction is a journey that can leave you feeling very alone, and overcoming it can only happen if you personally do it. However, even though no one else can get you over your addiction, they can be of tremendous assistance to you while you try to get clean.

How to Battle Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Addiction by Holly

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What are co occurring mental health disorder and substance abuse?

A co-occurring disorder is when a person is battling some kind of mental health issue alongside substance abuse like drugs and alcohol addiction. Both SUDs and mental health issues share a strong link. In fact, it’s estimated that almost half the individuals suffering from one will develop the other at some time or another. 

It’s not uncommon for substance abuse to fuel a co-occurring disorder and vice-versa. The severity of both can also increase over time. 

The most common mental health issues to co-occur alongside SUD are – 

  • Anxiety Disorders –  Social anxiety and general anxiety share a strong link with marijuana abuse. Almost 19% of people in the US have some kind of anxiety disorder. GAD, social anxiety, and panic disorder can also increase the odds of co-occurring issues.
  • Personal Disorders – In terms of the general population, around 10-15% suffer from personality disorders. When we talk about those suffering from addiction and substance abuse, the rate is an astounding 35-70%. The commonest personality disorders in those battling SUD are – borderline, avoidant personality, paranoia, and antisocial behavior. 
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Studies tell us that ADHD comes with an increased risk of developing addiction-related issues during adulthood (mainly 20s and 30s.) There is a positive correlation in symptoms of ADHD like impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention with substance use in adults. 
  • Mood Disorder – Around 30% of people suffering from SUD are likely to suffer from one of the mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.
  • PTSD – According to a survey, people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are 4x more likely to develop substance use disorder than those without.

What Causes Co-occurring and Substance Addiction?

It is estimated that over half the people with one disorder will eventually develop the other during their lifetime. While the exact set of reasons that can fuel these two conditions might be long, researchers have found the 3 most prevalent reasons as to why co-occurring disorders may take place.

Overlapping Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors behind SUD and mental health issues are overlapping. Generally, these include environmental factors like exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age, early childhood trauma, and genetics. All of these factors can make a person more susceptible to developing mental health issues and requiring addiction treatment for drugs such as Cocaine or others.

Self-Medication

Dealing with a mental illness can be difficult. That’s why many people resort to alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms. In medical terms, this is called ‘self-medicating’. However, it’s quite misleading as instead of fixing the problems, it only masks them. What’s more, in the long run, it exacerbates the symptoms and worsens the dependency on drugs/alcohol, making it more difficult to detox from alcohol or drugs, often requiring medically supervised detox.

Drug-Induced Brain Changes

Prolonged drug and substance use can change the brains ‘motivation and reward mechanism’. It can give a false sense of wellness causing one to develop a dependence on drugs beyond control. Eventually, it can lead to mental health issues by affecting the brain and neurotransmitters.

Drugs affect the areas of the brain associated with mood, impulse control, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

How to Battle Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use

Residential Treatment 

Residential rehab programs begin with an initial assessment to draw an individual treatment plan. This is followed by detox and several other therapies. The patient has to stay in a structured and highly supervised facility. Common inpatient treatment duration for drug addiction is 30 days. Residential programs put the entire focus on recovery as daily triggers and challenges are removed that often lead to relapses.

Outpatient Healing Programs

Under this program, a patient receives all the treatments and therapies as in residential rehab. However, they are not required to live in the facility. This is good for young teenagers, parents, and people with mild addiction who cannot sacrifice work commitments. 

Detox

This is usually the first step in most addiction treatment programs. Drug detoxification entails medical supervision to get the drugs out of the system. With a clean system, experts can begin further treatment. Generally, therapies and medication cannot begin unless detox is successfully over.

Integrated treatment

Integrated treatment often includes behavioral therapy and counseling as interventions. Rehab centers in Connecticut and other parts of the United States use integrated treatment coupled with medication. Integrated treatment encompasses several therapeutic techniques with proven results in treating substance abuse and mental health issues. Common integrated therapies are –

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy aka CBT aims to understand negative behaviours, thinking patterns, and self-talk that might be causing addiction and other disorders. It then works on changing them.
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy is used for treating borderline personality disorder. It does so by working on negative actions and thoughts like self-harm, suicidal behaviour, and dependence on a substance to cope with daily stressors.
  • Contingency management is often used in upscale addiction treatment centres. It reinforces positive changes by utilising incentives for patients who can exhibit positive behaviours such as staying sober and meeting therapy guidelines.

Medication Treatment

Psychotherapeutic Medications are often integral to treating SUD and co-occurring disorders and are frequently used during alcohol treatment. The commonly prescribed medications include antipsychotics and antidepressants. The latter is used to mostly manage the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Other than that, medications may also be used to lessen the cravings so that relapses don’t happen. 

Buprenorphine, naltrexone, methadone, disulfiram, and acamprosate are the common medications used for treating SUD.

Peer Support Clubs

It’s not uncommon for people with psychiatric issues to become antisocial. The withdrawal from social life exacerbates when you throw drugs and alcohol into the mix. By joining peer support groups/clubs like 12-step, Alcoholics Anonymous, and group counseling – patients can find solace in the presence of other people going through similar battles. 

They can draw inspiration from their stories and also learn some tips to maintain sobriety. Support groups are highly effective in fostering a long-term, sustainable drug-free lifestyle.

Education and Counselling for Families

Sometimes a toxic family environment or dysfunctional relationships may unknowingly be fuelling a person’s addiction. Family counselling educates people how to create a healthy living environment for a family member to support long-term recovery.

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Holistic Remedies

Medical science is embracing the effectiveness and importance of holistic/alternative treatment when it comes to treating drug addiction. Many rehab centres are now adopting a holistic treatment model. Common holistic therapies are – massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga, reiki, meditation, and music therapy.

In Conclusion

Co-occurring disorders may be a harsh reality in many people’s lives. But, know that if you or your loved one is going through this issue, help is always available.

Holly is a freelance writer who loves to help people who are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Holly knows first-hand what it’s like to deal with substance addiction, and has now been sober for 5 years. Holly is a frequent contributor to many addiction-related blogs and organizations such as the Addiction Treatment Division and Inpatient-Rehab.org.

Mental health stigma and drug addiction Guest post by Bill Weiss

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The stigma that some people see looming over drug addiction and drug abuse disorder will prevent thousands of people from getting the help they so desperately need and deserve. Viewing drug abuse as a disfigurement of one’s will and self-worth is very harmful and can leave people in active addiction.

The fear of admitting that they are struggling and the judgment that will face afterward can be catastrophic. It has been scientifically proven that drug abuse disorder and addiction is a disease of the mind and body. There should not be any negative views toward someone when they decide it is time to get help for this issue.

During active addiction, many users will take part in actions that the clean/sober them would never think about doing. From the outside looking in, these decisions and behaviors can seem unusual, most of the time they are.

Watching someone absolutely self-destruct is very difficult. You may just want to shake the person struggling and scream “WHY CAN’T YOU STOP?!”. If only it was that easy.

Drug abuse and addiction is a surface issue, it’s the problem the whole world can see, but over 80% of drug addicts struggle with underlying mental health issues.

 

Mental Health Issues and Drug Addiction  

Far too many of those currently in active addiction have never received proper care to help them with their mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, PTSD and bipolar are the most common underlying mental health issues that can easily influence drug abuse. When one does not receive proper therapy and/or medications to help them with these problems they may turn to drugs for relief. Self-medicating the problem provides temporary relief, but nothing is actually being done to resolve and work on the issues.

The longer someone uses the worse their mental health issues will become. Depressive episodes can turn into suicidal thoughts and ideations. Anxiety can turn into panic disorder. Drugs do not solve the problem, but for someone struggling with mental health issues will find a level of mental peace from the drugs. Even as their life spirals out of control, they may accept it and continue to get high.

This isn’t their fault. Long-term abuse of any narcotic substance will alter the way one’s brain reacts to and handles certain situations. The chemical balance has been thrown out of whack, the drugs now have near complete control.

Breaking free from the powerful grip of these drugs is not easy, especially if the person struggling believes they will be harshly judged as the stigma around addiction follows them.

 

Breaking the Drug Stigma

Accidental drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death in the USA. We are facing a drug epidemic like never before, more US citizens passed away due to a drug overdose in 2017 than in the entire Vietnam War.

As a country we must help remove this stigma, it is literally a matter of life and death. Millions of people are currently struggling with drug addiction, tens of millions of families will be affected. How can you do your part of getting rid of the addiction stigma?

Educating yourself and others about drug addiction statistics and facts will help one truly understand the impact that drugs have had and will continue to have in this country. Drug addicts are not how they are commonly depicted in movies.

Addiction can affect anyone, any sex, religion and financial background can fall victim to substances and mental health issues. It is not just something that destroys the lives of the homeless and the poor. These are mothers & fathers, brothers & sisters, friends, aunts and uncles who are being destroyed by these terrible substances.

If someone you care about is currently struggling with drug abuse/addiction the best thing you can do for them is to let them know that you are there for them whenever they are ready to get help. While you may not 100% understand what they are going through, you know that they need help and that’s all that matters.

It is strongly suggested by most medical professional that anyone struggling with drug abuse or addiction issues gets professional help from a drug treatment center.

 

Guest Post: Making the Climb: 4 Tricks to begin the fight against Drug Addiction by Kara Masterson

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It all started at a party you attended a few months ago. You were feeling down after the big break up, and you just wanted to feel good again. Someone at the party offered you some pills, and they made you feel better than you had felt in a long time. Before you knew it, you were a regular user. At first the confidence and the euphoria were too irresistible to pass up.

Once hooked, you always knew how to get ahold of your drug of choice. It was always just a phone call away. Unfortunately, one thing lead to another and now the pills are not having the same effect they used to provide you with. In fact, you need more to get the same feelings, but coming down has been much more difficult on you than you ever imagined it could be. In a particular low moment, you started to think that it might be time to fight your drug addiction, but where do you begin?

Admitting Your Problem

As with most problems, fighting a drug addiction begins with admitting to yourself that you definitely have a problem with drugs. If you are not committed to this being the truth, then you will find it is difficult to see a commitment to overcome the addiction through to the end. When you are certain that you want to give up your addiction and will do anything to make that a reality, then you are ready to take the journey necessary to reclaim your life back from drug addiction.

Disassociate from Your Connection

As long as you can call someone to enable you to continue in an addiction, you will be driven by the addiction to do so. To fight and overcome a drug addiction, you must break all ties with the people who enable you. By making this commitment, you are getting rid of the source of your addictive behavior.

Build a Support Network

To give yourself the best chance at overcoming addiction, you need to identify the people you can trust that have your best interests in mind to confide in about your drug addiction. This could be friends, family members or even someone like a pastor or teacher.

The important thing is that you gather people around you who love you and are willing to help you see your recovery all the way through. Sure, some of these people may be disappointed to learn about your addiction at first, but ultimately those who have your best interests in mind will want to help you reclaim your life and will be there for you in times of weakness.

Get Professional Help

The next step in your treatment is to locate and visit a rehab facility that can help you to get clean from drugs. Detoxing from narcotic substances can sometimes be a difficult path to walk down, but it is best dealt with by working with professionals like Kick Recovery Coaching or someone similar who have helped countless people through this process. They will not only be able to help you know what to expect, but they can provide you with ways to get through the detox phase that are rooted in the latest drug addiction treatment options.

The road ahead may not be an easy one, but it is definitely better than not seeking any help at all. The simple reality is that drugs ruin lives, but you do not have to be a statistic or a willing victim. By taking up the fight to reclaim your life from a drug addiction, you will come out the other end of this journey a much stronger person for it.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer based in the USA.