Deciding on Treatment for Drug Abuse
The devastating effects of drug addiction reach into a people’s mind, body, soul and relationships. Often the drug user feels as though they have fallen into an abyss that they will never get out of. Engrossed in shame and guilt over using, far too many do not get the help they need. More than 25,000 people a year die from prescription drugs alone according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH).
Furthermore, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)9.4% of Americans age 12 and older have used an illicit drug in the last month. That’s one in every ten people! No wonder so many people are seeking treatment for drug abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, call 1-318-402-4900, and do not let drugs run your life a minute more.
Impact on Cognition
Addiction has negative consequences for everyone involved. For friends and family members, the problem may be excruciatingly obvious, but the person using may not understand. The psychological effects often present with such issues as denial, distorted thinking, obsessive thinking, grandiose thinking, and cognition issues.
Effects on Cognition
The cognitive effects of drug abuse devastate. Addiction affects the learning, memory and reasoning parts of the brain. The neural connections are both damaged and altered, burning the pleasurable effect into the user’s memory. The neurological effect makes stopping the drug difficult without help. Once a person stops using, however, the brain will begin to heal.
The drug user will certainly have experienced denial at some point in their using. It might look like a college student abusing their Vyvanse (an ADHD medication), telling themselves that it can’t hurt them as it was prescribed by a doctor or truly believing that they need more than the recommended dosage. The drug user’s brain actually tells him or her that no problem exists, believing that it needs the drug to survive. The person can truly feel as though they cannot live without the drug, but this is simply the drug distorting reality.
Those suffering from the disease of addiction will undoubtedly experience distorted thinking. The diseased brain tells the user the drug matters more than anything else –even survival. The person’s thinking will distort in a variety of ways and typically fall into such categories as catastrophizing, generalizing, personalizing, blaming, and “all-or-nothing” thought processes. The person using drugs may believe that his or her drug use harms no one else. Addicted people’s thinking may be elaborately distorted regarding their view of self and how they believe others view them. All distortions are a defense mechanism that work to excuse the individual’s drug use.
Obsessive thinking is a tell-tell sign of addiction. The addicted person may spend all mental energy and resources working to get more of the substance of abuse. It eventually becomes all that that person thinks about. They begin to see everything through a lens of simply whether or not it helps or hinders their drug use. The person may change friends, jobs, locations or anything else that stands in the way of his or her drug use.
The addicted person usually feels a desperate need for the drug, possibly as though they won’t survive without it. The extreme emotional attachment may lead the drug user to truly believe that everyone should understand and help him or her achieve the goal of obtaining more.
Characterized by the belief that what matters to the individual must matter as much to others, grandiose thinking is a thought pattern best described as extremely self-centered and selfish. A companion to obsessive thinking, grandiose thinking is simply all about the individual. The user may truly believe that his or her needs are all that should matter to others.
What are the Health Consequences of Drug Use?
Drug use of any kind poses potential health risk. Substances vary in terms of potential effects and risks, some of which is not common knowledge. Prescription drugs, for instance, have proven just as deadly as street drugs. The consequences vary, but certain prescription drugs and illicit drugs all carry a potential to cause addiction, overdose and death. Chemical dependence and tolerance are early warning signs of a budding addiction.
The common misconception about prescription drugs is that they are harmless. This comes from their legal status and the marketing strategy as medicine, however, they pose very real and serious harmful effects. The prevalence of prescription drug abuse is skyrocketing and has become a national epidemic.
The most commonly abused classes of prescription drugs are amphetamines, opioids, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants. ADHD stimulants are simply legal speed and may cause heart failure, seizures, anxiety, psychosis, heart and brain damage, among other potential health complications. CNS depressants such as Xanax and Ambien also cause confusion, impaired judgement, slowed heart rate and blood pressure, and, like any depressant, can lead to overdose and death.
Prescription pain killers, or opioids, are the most commonly talked about abused of prescription medications. According to the CDC, pain killers caused over 71% of deaths attributed to overdose in 2013. They are well known to cause addiction and many heroin users first became addicted to prescription pain killers.
Illegal drug use is by definition extremely dangerous. The side effects vary by substance, however, due to their homemade nature they are all potentially life-threatening. There is no way to predict what you are actually getting given their lack of quality control.
People often think that using “just once” will not cause horrible health consequences, however, this common misconception has led many an individual to ICU or the morgue. All it takes is one bad batch to kill dozens of people.
Intravenous drug use is the most dangerous delivery method. IV drug users have the very real potential to overdose and die due to the high potency and potential for miscalculation regarding dose. Using needles also runs the risk of contracting deadly disease and, possibly, passing it on to someone else.
Inpatient rehab programs are decidedly the most effective approach for the treatment of addiction. Located in a residential facility with 24/7 medical supervision, inpatient rehabilitation centers have the added benefit of removing the addicted person from people and places associated with their using.
Outpatient care gives the individual more freedom and costs less than inpatient programs. Outpatient treatment programs allow the person to attend groups on a part-time basis and do not require a leave of absence for work or other activities. This is a less intensive treatment approach, generally reserved for those who are more stabilized.
Inpatient and outpatient programs both provide people with life skills and coping mechanisms critical for their successful victory over drug and alcohol addiction. A variety of different therapies are used, as what works for one person may not be as effective for another.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is the one of the preeminent methods for treating the disease of addiction. A form of psychotherapy, CBT helps people understand and challenge negative and destructive thought patterns by replacing them with positive and constructive ones. Through this therapeutic approach the individual learns why and how certain thought processes occur and how his or her behavior has negatively affected themselves and others.
Group therapy is another proven therapeutic method for addiction treatment. In group therapy sessions, the individual is able to give and get feedback and form connections with others in the group. This model allows for the formation of strong bonds among members, as well as support in a safe and comfortable loving peer run environment.
Lastly, family therapy helps people in recovery. Family members attend classes on addiction and meetings along with the person struggling with addiction to work through past issues. All family members are armed with coping skills and taught communication techniques to better interpersonal relationships. This prepares the family for the addicted person’s return home and helps maintain new healthy boundaries.
There is Hope
The more a person understands about addiction, the better their odds of beating this destructive and baffling disease. It may be extremely difficult to communicate with an active drug user in a productive and meaningful way. If someone you love is struggling with the disease of addiction, give us a call at 1-318-402-4900. We have professionals who can answer all of your questions and can give you information about staging an intervention and other ways to help your loved one.
Many have been in the same situation you are. Don’t give up hope! Those who are in recovery, assert that their lives are spectacularly better than they could have dreamt possible while they were using. It takes courage and perseverance but the path of recovery is easy compared to the hardships that come with drug addiction. It is never too late to start down the road of recovery. If you are struggling with drug addiction, give us a call and get the help you need and deserve! 1-318-402-4900