The best person to answer this question is someone who used to be an addict. When asked, they state that an addict’s entire reason for existing is to procure their substances of choice. In other words, an addict’s whole purpose for waking up in the morning is to consume their substance of choice, which is why he or she goes to sleep at night. An addict’s entire life is controlled by substances, but addiction is something that leads people towards institutions, prison sentences, or death.
The truth of the matter is that addiction is a disease, so the word “addict” is primarily seen as a derogatory term. People who are addicted to substances do not like to be called “addicts” because they are labeled by the disease. Rather than label people addicted to substances, recovery centers treat you or your loved one as a person with a disease, making it possible for you to preserve your dignity and hope for your own or your loved one’s recovery.
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Addiction vs. Misuse
Addiction and misuse are not the same things. When someone misuses a substance for which he or she may have a prescription, they take it in a manner that their doctors did not prescribe it. For example, they will take more of the medication than was prescribed. Misuse also means that the person takes the substance when it is inappropriate, which may cause social issues or health problems to develop.
If you are misusing a substance, it doesn’t automatically mean you are addicted to it. You may enjoy the euphoric feelings from ingesting large amounts of the substance, but you will also experience the harm that the substance can do to you. You will not be addicted to the substance until you begin to experience the chronic, relapsing characteristics of the disease. This means that you will seek your substance of choice compulsively and continue to use it even though it is causing deleterious consequences for you and also causes long-lasting changes in your brain.
The Symptoms of Addiction
Many symptoms indicate that someone is experiencing an addiction, and they include the following:
- Becoming defensive when someone mentions a substance problem
- Differences in your appearance, such as a dramatic weight loss or the failure to maintain good hygiene
- Loss of energy for daily activities
- The inability to refrain from substance use even though you are experiencing health or social problems
- Difficulties in your relationships if someone accuses you of using substances
- Troubles at work
- Failing grades at school
The Biology of Addiction
People often believe that addiction is a moral failing and that people must stop abusing their substances of choice. As was mentioned above, substances cause changes in the brain, so the disease of addiction needs to be treated for you to be able to return to the life you once lived.
When your brain is healthy, it rewards you when you perform healthy behaviors, such as bonding with relatives, eating, or exercising. When you perform these behaviors, your brain turns on circuits that make you experience pleasure, which is a motivating factor for repeating these behaviors.
When a healthy brain is in danger, the brain causes you to become fearful so that you can react by getting out of the way of the danger. For example, your frontal lobe will become active so that it can assist you in deciding whether or not you should buy something that you cannot afford by helping you consider the consequences of this action.
After you become addicted, your brain cannot act as described above. How the brain is hardwired works to hurt you rather than save you in dangerous circumstances. Substances take over the pleasure and reward circuits and cause you to want increasing amounts of these dangerous substances. This may also cause your danger-sensing circuits to overreact, making you feel stressed and anxious when you are not ingesting your substance. This is when you begin to seek your substances to avoid negative feelings rather than the pleasure you experienced in the beginning.
At the point described above, your frontal cortex cannot help you make good decisions about whether or not to take a substance. You may know that taking your substance of choice is causing harm because you are about to lose custody of your children, but you cannot keep using it.
Going Through Withdrawal
After substances change your bodily systems, the body acts to preserve these changes even though they are not natural. Because you have been consuming your substance of choice for a sufficient period of time, your body wants to maintain this balance. It does this by changing the number of neurotransmitters you need in your brain so your body adjusts to the presence of your substance of choice.
During this time of change, your body needs you to ingest additional doses of your substance of choice for you to experience the pleasurable feelings you had the first time you took the drug. This is known as “tolerance.” As time goes by, your body needs to continually increase the amount of substance you use to maintain your sense of well-being.
The process described above occurs because you have been giving your body a consistent amount of the substance. If you stop ingesting the substance, your body is no longer in a balanced state. This imbalanced state causes your neurotransmitters and hormones to become imbalanced, leading to withdrawal symptoms.
Because of the nature of a substance use disorder, the withdrawal symptoms may begin immediately after you decide to stop ingesting your drug of choice. The symptoms are different for each type of substance, but they can range from mild to severe. During the withdrawal process, your body is learning to be without substances in your system, which can last a couple of days or as long as a couple of weeks. This will depend on the type of substance you used and the amount of substance you were in the habit of using. If you have any health conditions, they can contribute to the length of time your body needs to be free of your substance.
During the withdrawal process, your body sends signals to you to ingest your substance of choice. This is why it is difficult for those addicted to substances to refrain from substance use after the withdrawal process. The signals are known as “withdrawal symptoms,” which are why many people relapse and return to substance use.
Stopping substance use is known as going “cold turkey,” and it is not recommended because it can be highly uncomfortable or even fatal. Allure Detox is the best option for you or your loved one when you need to detoxify.
The withdrawal symptoms that you may experience will depend on your substance of choice, but the following general symptoms are typical of the symptoms that you may experience:
- Heavy sweating
The Detoxification Process
The detoxification process or “detox” is the process by which we remove all traces of your substance of choice from your body. It is critically important that you begin treatment with the detox process because the removal of substances from your body is only the beginning of treatment for your substance use disorder.
When entering the detox process at Allure Detox, you will begin with medication-assisted treatment or MAT. As was mentioned above, withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable, but in the MAT program, we will administer medications that will relieve these symptoms so that you can endure the entire process without needing to seek your substance of choice.
A substance use disorder causes a physical addiction as well as a psychological addiction. We address your physical addiction first so that we can help you overcome your psychological addiction. A psychological addiction refers to your substance use disorder’s mental or emotional aspects. For example, psychological addiction is the inability to think about anything other than your substance of choice and cravings.
Treatment for your psychological addiction is going to take much longer than the treatment of your physical addiction, and it requires therapy.
Physical therapy treats your substance use disorder by using physical treatments. Examples of physical treatments include exercise, heat treatments, and massage. For example, massage is when a therapist manipulates your body’s soft tissues. These manipulations ensure that your tissues relax, decrease the pain you may be experiencing, and increase the amount of oxygen and blood that flows through your system.
Allure Detox can help you or your loved one with medical detox and residential treatment for your substance use disorder. If you are ready to get help today, contact us.