Substance use disorder, otherwise known as drug addiction, does not discriminate towards a person’s age, race, education level, socioeconomic status, or sex; hence, it affects all people equally. Unfortunately, there is still a strong stigma surrounding addiction and rehab that has persisted for hundreds of years. Early on, when researchers were formulating theories as to what causes drug addiction, many theorists came to the conclusion that it must result from a weakness of the will or poor self-control. Thus, people believed that all addicts were utterly blameworthy for their ailment.
In all reality, this conception of drug addiction is completely false. With more modern research methods at our disposal, scientists have been able to uncover a number of factors that may predispose someone to manifesting a substance use disorder later in their life. With the advent of genetics in the past century, it is now possible to measure the heritability of more complex neurological and psychological disorders. On average, it is estimated that addiction has a heritability of approximately 50 percent. Although the percentage may range due to a number of extraneous factors, it is clear that substance use disorders are highly contingent on a person’s genes.
Another important factor subserving the onset of a substance use disorder is the environment. With so many disparate environmental factors that may affect a person’s development in the womb and after birth, it has been extremely hard to pinpoint any specific factor that may be sufficient or necessary for drug addiction. Of course, statistics have proven that there are a number of environmental factors that are correlated with substance use disorders.
One of the main effects of the stigma surrounding drug addiction is the shame felt by those actually suffering from substance use disorders. If they feel that their affliction was a direct result from a weakness in their will, then they may also feel more reluctant to seek help. There is a certain shame that is felt when you blame yourself or are blamed by others for your addiction. This is why it is so important to recognize addiction as what it really is: a neurological disease. Once people come to this realization, they no longer blame those with the disorder; rather, they view it like any other disease. Subsequently, this will allow addicts to accept who they are and seek the treatment that they need.
Along with the shame caused by social stigmas, addicts often face a variety of obstacles that preclude them from seeking help. For instance, addicts are usually in denial over their problem; they fear the withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxification; they fear the drastic change that is necessary to end their addiction; they worry that they cannot succeed in recovery because of previous unsuccessful attempts; and they have low self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Furthermore, if an addict has spent many years building a reputation, seeking help may work to taint it.
The only possible way to overcome all of these obstacles is to gain a deeper understanding of addiction as a whole. Many inpatient drug rehabilitation centers are highly focused on educating their patients on the underlying physiology of addiction, the behaviors associated with addiction and the stages that lead an addict to relapse. Once a person understands that rehab is only looking to facilitate a happier and more fulfilling life, many of their reservations begin to subside. Further, attending an inpatient drug rehab program could be the beginning of a new prosperous life for those truly motivated to conquer their addiction.
The first and, arguably, most crucial part of treatment is detoxification. This is the process that allows a patient to rid their body of any drugs and find a sober equilibrium in bodily chemical concentrations. No matter what rehab center an addict decides to attend, they will all require him or her to go through detox during the first week of treatment. In some cases, patients may need up to 10 days to fully detox from their drug of choice, but this occurs with addicts that have severe withdrawal symptoms. The main reason detox is so necessary is due to the fact that an addict’s brain undergoes profound changes in functioning and form during the period of heavy drug use. If the brain is allowed to return to normal levels again, it is then able to begin the process of healing.
One of the most important brain chemicals associated with addiction is dopamine. When an addict repeatedly uses any psychoactive substance, the concentration of dopamine within the brain increases dramatically. One area of the brain where dopamine is most common is known as the m esolimbic pathway, or the reward pathway. With increased dopamine, this pathway serves to reinforce certain behaviors that result in pleasurable feelings. Ergo, the brain comes to build a strong association with the drug use behaviors and the pleasure that ensues. This is how an addiction is formed on a neurological basis.
Once patients are able to assimilate to sobriety, they then begin the treatment portion of recovery. Usually, this involves patients regularly attending group and individual counseling sessions with trained healthcare professionals. Individual therapy sessions offer an intimate environment where patients are able to work on their self-esteem, aftercare plan, and anything else that might be bothering them. Group sessions allow patients to learn from the experiences of other recovering addicts so that they can be better equipped to face any obstacles in recovery. Moreover, patients will attend a number of educational classes that teach patients relapse prevention methods, how to identify and cope with many of the triggers that lead to a relapse, and the importance of peer support in recovery.
Once an addict comes to the realization that they have a substance use problem, it is paramount to seek help immediately. The sooner they are able to catch it, the better the chances are that they can overcome it with intensive therapy. Regardless, anyone is able to recover from the disease of addiction. It takes motivation and a lot of hard work, but the payoff is enormously rewarding in the end. Patients may need to try recovery several times before they get the hang of it, so it is important to never give up.
If you or someone you love are battling with addiction, then seeking inpatient drug rehab might be the answer to your woes. Recognizing that you have a problem and having the confidence to seek the appropriate help is the first step on the road to a lasting recovery.
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