According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), only about one in ten people who need treatment for a drug or alcohol problem receive that treatment, yet approximately 16% of the U.S. population ages 12 and older (40 million people) meet the criteria for a substance abuse problem (including nicotine, alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs). But, sadly, not all of them know when it’s time to seek treatment for addiction.

Meanwhile, federal, state and local governments spend close to $500 billion annually on addiction and substance abuse programs, but for each dollar, only two cents goes toward prevention and treatment.

One statistic, in particular, stands out: More than 90% of people with a substance problem began smoking, drinking or using drugs before the age 18.

The upshot: Investing in prevention and workable treatment, focusing on our youth and early detection, are all essential if we are to make a significant dent in this epidemic.   

For an individual of any age or their family, the first step is recognizing that a problem exists and deciding to take action.  For that person or family, the difference between doing nothing and taking effective action, in terms of statistics, ranges from 0% to 100%.

If you don’t do anything, nothing happens – and that is a stat you and your family simply cannot afford.   The first step is recognizing the signals and symptoms of substance abuse, and deciding whether professional treatment is your best option.

When to Seek Treatment for Addiction

Here are some things to watch for if you suspect drug abuse or addiction in yourself or a loved one.  The sooner you seek treatment for addiction, the better your chances of lasting recovery.

  • Self-medicating.

seek treatment for addictionTo self-medicate is to use a substance – alcohol, prescription or illicit drug – in an effort to relieve a physical or mental problem. You have a problem and you opt for a chemical “solution”. This can be manifested in many ways: Taking oxycodone that happens to be in the medicine cabinet, drinking whenever one is stressed, taking far more than what is prescribed of a drug, claiming pain that doesn’t exist in order to refill a prescription, using one drug to offset the effects of another without any medical supervision (which can be extremely dangerous) – to name a few.

  • Using drugs or alcohol as a crutch.

This is similar to self-medicating but can manifest in even more subtle ways. You drink so you can feel at ease with friends or strangers. You take a Xanax (prescribed or otherwise) so you can get through the workday. You’ve “got to get loaded” any time you visit your parents. Whenever you get in an argument, you numb yourself with a drink or drug. You use Adderall to “focus” for exams. You must drink heavily every time you’re on a date. The list of ways people use drugs or alcohol just to face the day or night is endless.

  • You can’t have fun without drugs or alcohol.

This one is extremely common. What is your idea of a good time? Is it snowboarding, reading a book, going out to the movies, writing a novel, taking a martial arts class, playing a board game with your family, building something with your hands? Or is it getting high or hammered?  When given some free time, do you instantly think it’s time to go out and consume drugs or alcohol and engage in sketchy behavior?

The point is not to be moralistic and cast judgment upon oneself or others. Instead, step outside yourself for a moment. How much is habitual drug or alcohol intake benefiting you or those around you? Why don’t healthy activities appeal to you more? These are vital questions and often one needs guidance getting to the bottom of it. You owe it to yourself to get some answers.

  • Physical dependence.

There are two major divisions when it comes to dependency and addiction: Physical and psychological.

Physical dependency means your body and brain chemistry are so accustomed to a substance that quitting causes physical reactions, pain, sickness, and can be extremely dangerous, even deadly.

Use of anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines can cause severe and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if not carefully supervised. It’s called benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and its symptoms include nausea, dry retching, cognitive difficulty, hallucinations, seizures, psychosis, suicidal thoughts and even death.

Opioid use can easily lead to physical addiction and medical detox is highly recommended to curb feeling “dope sick” and a slew of other symptoms. Opiate withdrawal can even be life-threatening, particularly in the case of long-term methadone use.

Withdrawal from protracted alcohol abuse can result in fever, extreme nausea, DTs (delirium tremens, “trembling delirium” involving hallucinations, anxiety, and disorientation), and can be deadly if not properly administered.  

Any drug can be physically addictive to one degree or another. When the signs are there, getting immediate attention from trained professionals is the best and often life-saving option.

Polysubstance dependence or addiction is extremely common and indicates a problem with more than one substance, whether prescribed or not. Combining various substances, such as an opiate with another depressant like alcohol or a stimulant like a methamphetamine, is extremely dangerous, but people do it routinely.

You can have prescriptions for everything you’re taking, a daily “cocktail” of psychotropic drugs, yet meet all the criteria for addiction, requiring supervision to come safely off each drug.  

  • Lying and stealing.

Any long-term addict will likely have harrowing tales of the lengths and depths they went to in order to obtain drugs or money for drugs. Drug addiction will prompt people to do things that are antithetical to their basic personality. They “aren’t themselves” while on drugs or while seeking a drug fix. Addicts will steal from family, live on the street and generally do whatever is necessary to sustain their habit. They will lie about whatever they did and then they’ll about the lying. Again, passing judgment is not the point. An internal revelation and decision to change can mark a path back toward sobriety and ethical conduct.

  • Attempts to quit have not worked.

Seek Treatment for AddictionJust like cigarettes, the addict or alcoholic has probably quit many times in the past, for whatever length of time, only to relapse again and again. The methods people use in an attempt to quit are innumerable. A life event, such as an arrest or DUI conviction, will prompt them to throw out all their drugs and alcohol and make a firm decision “never again” to use – only to find themselves using again within days or weeks. They may switch addictions, opting for an unhealthy sexual habit over drug use, and eventually switch back to drugs.

Some “addictive behavior” can be healthy, such as dedication to a sport or art or profession. But where one has tried and failed to quit substance abuse, the repeated failures can cause a gradual apathy in a person. They key is to rekindle the purpose of sobriety and a better life and help the person achieve those goals – not through punishment but positive reinforcement.

  • Risky activity.

Driving while intoxicated or high, operating heavy machinery, anything illegal or dangerous is a flashing red alert that help or intervention is needed. If you don’t apply some discipline to your life, “life” will apply discipline to you. Looking at the four walls of a jail cell is not a thrilling view. While being “edgy” may appeal to one’s rebellious spirit, there’s nothing attractive about being responsible for a shattered life – including your own.

Risky activity takes many forms. Women and girls will commonly resort to selling their bodies to obtain drugs, as will men and boys. Even in extreme cases, help is within reach.

  • Drug and alcohol abuse affects your personal or professional life.

Even the “functional” addict or alcoholic’s life is adversely affected by the addiction. The effects can be slow and eroding or sudden and devastating. A sales professional may use alcohol habitually and add amphetamine to stay alert, building up a tolerance that requires more and more of the drug and more and more money. Sooner or later they burn out. The artist may use Ecstasy (Molly, MDMA) or other club drugs to get that creative spark, and it may “work” at the outset, but the highs become harder to reach and the lows become more abysmal.

When drugs or alcohol affect how you treat your friends and loved ones, you know you’ve long since crossed over the line of needing help with the problem. Abuse and neglect due to addiction and alcoholism can be passed down generation to generation. The term intergenerational trauma describes the societal phenomenon, but it need not continue. The cycle of abuse and neglect can be halted, and a new future can be built.

  • Health problems, accidents.

Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to a multitude of health-related difficulties. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists hepatitis, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory dysfunction, kidney damage, liver disease, HIV, AIDS, birth defects, and many other health problems directly related to chemical abuse. The risky behavior and poor judgment often connected with substance abuse can lead to STDs, sexual assault, and rape. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports:

Every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes—that’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016. Drunk-driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades; however, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available, these deaths and damages contributed to a cost of $44B per year.

  • Isolation.

Do you feel isolated from friends and family? Is your only “friend” your addiction, the bottle, the pill or the needle? People manifest addiction in different ways. Some isolate themselves while using. Others use when with their drug-taking or heavy-drinking friends. Commonly, even in social situations, the addict or alcoholic will feel isolated. Ever feel utterly alone while surrounded by people? If so, you are not alone in feeling alone.  You have friends. Real ones. You may or may not believe it, but real help is possible.

Finding the Right Treatment Program for Your Needs

 
If you have made the decision to seek treatment for addiction for yourself or a loved one, call New Beginnings today.  We can help.

Don’t delay another second
when help is so close.

Call 877-704-7285 Now!

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