If you or someone you love suffers from a substance abuse disorder, you are definitely not alone. As a matter of fact, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (PFDK), over 200 million people use drugs globally. But it is a complicated and difficult disease. Here are some things that you only truly understand if you have a substance abuse disorder:
You Can Have Problems with More than Just Alcohol and Drugs
Use of drugs or alcohol is usually secondary to other serious chronic conditions or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. This can complicate the treatment process because these other health issues must be treated in order to help treat the addiction itself. This is why rehabilitation often includes emotional counselling.
You did not Become an Addict Overnight
Addiction is not a problem that pops up suddenly: often, it comes on slowly over a period of time. Often, it happens as you build up a tolerance to a certain drug and eventually need more and more of it to get the same effect. Also, you can sometimes go from using “milder” drugs like alcohol or marijuana and then eventually go on to harder drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
You have Many Reasons for Using
The stereotype is that many drug abusers use just for the fun of it or to entertain themselves or for the pleasure of getting high. While some people do use recreationally, the reasons that lie behind use are often much more complicated. You can use in order to help deal with stress or anxiety, to cope with traumatic life experiences or even to help you study better, lose weight or perform better in sports. This variety of reasons makes the treatment for complicated.
You Feel Like Your Life Centers Around Your Habit
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, you often begin to feel like your entire life centers around your habit. Things that you enjoyed before — like sports or school or just being with friends or family — can suffer from your habit, but you feel like you will never be able to give it up even if it hurts the ones you love. Sometimes, all you can think about is where you can get your next hit.
You Feel Ashamed and Guilty — but Don’t Feel Like You can Quit
When you abuse alcohol or drugs, this behavior can often go along with feelings of guilt or shame — but these feelings aren’t enough to make you stop your habit. They can, however, be a source of great emotional distress — and this, in turn, can make the problem even worse.
You Don’t Know if You Can Handle Rehab
While rehabilitation is the best way to break an addiction, it is also an incredibly stressful process, both emotionally and physically. One of the most difficult parts is the detoxification process, which seeks to clean the body of the drugs. During this process, the body reacts to the withdrawal of substances it has become used to and this reaction can be severe and involve reactions like headaches and body aches, joint pain, restlessness, sleep and appetite disturbances, nausea and vomiting and even more severe symptoms like seizures, hallucinations and even heart attacks or strokes. This is why the process needs to take place under medical supervision.
You are Putting Your Body at Serious Risk
Even apart from the potential for a fatal overdose, you are putting your body at serious risk when you use drugs, especially over a long period of time. Drugs can damage the heart and kidneys as well as the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. It can also lead to malnutrition, which in turn can cause secondary problems like anemia or osteoporosis. Knowing this, however, is not always enough motivation to seek help.
In short, when you have a substance abuse disorder, you are suffering from a complicated disease with many potential causes — as well as many potential dangers, both emotional and physical. The good news is that rehab, with its combination of physical, emotional and mental treatment, can help you detoxify, get clean and stay clean in order to get back to a normal, healthy life.