Over the course of the past several years, drug abuse has become the leading cause of accidental death nationwide – surpassing automobile accidents in the vast majority of states for the first time in recorded history. As drug trends shift dramatically and inclinations become more drastic and more lethal, millions of American citizens lose their lives at the hands of devastating and unrelenting drug addictions. Drug addiction itself is characterized by uncontrollable and overwhelming cravings to obtain and use drugs regardless of constantly recurring and harshly damaging personal consequences. While the initial path to drug addiction is paved with choice, the afflicted individual eventually loses the power of rational decision making, and becomes utterly powerless over his or her drug of choice. Inevitably the act of seeking out and consuming the drug becomes compulsive, and cannot be ceased without professional intervention. This compulsive behavior is typically a direct result of major changes in brain functioning. Over time, the neurological pathways within the brain become altered by persistent drug use, and individuals who are consistently exposed to large quantities of a chemical substance over a prolonged period of time become psychologically reliant on the chemical compound in order to function ‘normally’. Drug addiction is a disease of the brain; one that affects multiple aspects of neurological function, including learning and memory, motivation, reward, and inhibitory behavior.
Drug addiction is far from a simple disease, thus it makes sense that addiction recovery is somewhat of a long and extremely multifaceted process. The disease of addiction will cause a wide array of personal consequences in the life of the addict – physical, metal, emotional, interpersonal, work-related, and spiritual. Some drug addicts manage to keep their outward appearances intact for the majority of their use, upholding their careers and their material possessions. However, these men and women will typically experience severely compromising emotional and mental effects of use, and will require intensive therapeutic care in order to repair psychological and demonstrative damage. Other drug addicts (usually those who begin using harder and more rapidly deteriorating substances such as heroin), will experience a comprehensive deconstruction of life as they know it. They will lose their jobs, their material possessions, their interpersonal relationships, their homes, and their senses of self-respect and self-importance. These addicts will typically require a far more comprehensive program of recovery, requiring a medical detox, extended stay at an inpatient treatment facility, and a slow transition back into day-to-day living by means of a halfway house or sober living facility. Drug addiction affects each individual it touches differently, thus effective care must be highly individualized and unique.
Drug addiction affects many areas of the life of the afflicted individual. First of all, physical health will be severely compromised. For this reason, medically monitored detoxification is a crucial first step of any drug-related recovery program. Those who have been using drugs such as opiates, stimulants, or tranquilizers for any prolonged period of time will likely experience severe and potentially life-threatening physical symptoms of withdrawal, ranging from insomnia and anxiety to heart attack, seizure, and stroke. Once a drug addict has been medically cleared, he or she will be urged to transfer to an inpatient addiction treatment facility. While most programs of inpatient recovery last anywhere from 28 days to 6 months, most will recommend a 3-month minimum stay. During inpatient treatment, all of the psychological and emotional components of addiction will be thoroughly addressed. Any dual diagnosis disorders will be uncovered and treated, and clients will learn healthy coping mechanisms and basic life skills essential to maintained sobriety. Because many drug addicts are unused to living drug free lives, it is highly suggested that they transfer to a sober living facility or halfway house immediately following inpatient treatment. In halfway, clients will live in a safe and supportive community of like-minded peers while learning to live sober and learning to be accountable to themselves and to others.
If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to drugs of any kind, it is essential that professional outside help is sought as quickly as possible. Drug addiction is a progressive disease – one that can (and often does) lead to fatality, institutionalization, or jail time if left untreated. For more information on drug addiction or to find out what steps you can take to get the help you both need and deserve, please contact one of our trained representatives today.