Alcohol and Drug Abuse Resources
Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and behavioral addiction are complex subjects that involve a sometimes bewildering array of issues, information, and approaches. When you or someone you love may be addicted to a substance or behavior, it can be challenging to locate people and resources to provide help.
What you need are options, answers, and understanding. You may need guidance in sorting through the vast amount of alternatives so that you can make the best possible choices for your unique situation. The alcohol and drug abuse resources in this section provide a way to narrow your focus, helping you find the specific information that addresses your concerns.
Addictions begin with a single action, which gradually or quickly escalates into abuse, as the individual must take more and more of the substance to produce the desired effect. Subsequent changes in the chemistry of the brain and other systems in the body make the individual so dependent on the drug that a host of symptoms occur when the drug is stopped.
The specific path that a given drug abuser follows to addiction depends on many factors, including family history, general physical and mental health, age, gender, social support system, and genetics. A treatment program must address each individual’s unique combination of background, challenges, readiness, and willingness to change if it is to be affective in breaking the addiction cycle.
We suggest that you use these addiction resources not only to inform yourself about the issues you or your loved one is facing but also to create the foundation from which to move toward a lasting recovery.
Drugs, Alcohol, and Behavioral Health Q&A
The Q&A (Questions and Answers) is one of the drug abuse resources that can provide helpful information about addiction. It includes questions that are commonly asked by those dealing with drug and alcohol abuse and behavioral addictions. The answers offer you a place to start and help eliminate some of the confusion that often surrounds the issues that may be affecting you and your family.
As is the case with any widespread societal issue, the topic of substance abuse and addiction has generated some potentially dangerous misconceptions. If someone has relapsed after treatment, is going through treatment again a lost cause? Is addiction a personality defect that only affects those with low will power? How bad are the withdrawal symptoms if I stop taking the drug?
Not knowing the answers to these questions can lead a substance abuser to avoid treatment, believing that recovery and a return to wellness is a hopeless prospect. It can also cause an addict’s family members and friends to withhold much-needed support in the mistaken belief that the addict can and should simply stop using.
The Q&A addresses these questions and several others, providing a balanced overview of the disease of substance abuse, offering hope for recovery and a starting point for finding help. If you have questions that are not addressed in the Q&A, please take a look at our other drug abuse resources or call our hotline for additional information.
Any in-depth discussion about alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or behavioral addiction involves terms that may not be familiar to the average person. Much of the terminology comes from the medical and scientific communities. Medical terms such as dopamine, opioid, and glutamate are used to explain the mechanisms or effects of addiction. Even the names of the substances that are likely to be abused can lead to confusion. The addiction glossary is one of our addiction resources that can help clarify and demystify the information that may be presented to an addict and those in an addict’s life when treatment is sought. Having a better understanding of the information can make the process of selecting an effective treatment simpler and less stressful.
A wide variety of research studies demonstrate just how prevalent and serious the issue of substance abuse and behavioral addictions has become. Those studies also highlight the areas that most need to be addressed. Some of the statistics that are available in the drug abuse resources include:
- The number of deaths that have been attributed to alcohol and illegal drugs
- Comparisons of the relapse rates between drug addiction and chronic illnesses that involve physiological and behavioral aspects, including diabetes, hypertension, and asthma
- The percentage of AIDS deaths that are related to drug abuse
- The numbers of people who use and abuse specific substances
- The prevalence of alcohol use and abuse by age
- The percentage of video gamers who are addicted to the activity
Statistics can help substance abusers, behavioral addicts, and their families and friends feel less alone. Knowing that others are experiencing addictions and achieving recovery can offer hope for a better future. In addition, learning about the potential dangers of continuing to abuse substances or engage in risky behaviors may provide the needed motivation for an addict to seek treatment.
The attraction of alcohol and drug abuse is often difficult for non-addicts to understand. Family members and friends may become judgmental and critical because they view substance abuse as an issue of will power. Drug abuse resources can help the people in an addict’s life better understand the mechanism of addiction and the powerful hold that it comes to have on an addict. When they realize that drugs stimulate the centers of the brain that are responsible for motivation, emotion, and feelings of pleasure, it becomes possible to see addiction as a drug-induced amplification of a natural process that all humans experience. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for many feel-good experiences, is released by drugs at two to ten times the amount produced by stimulants such as food, sex, and music. This increased amount of stimulation creates a sense of euphoria, which can become a powerful motivator that leads to a desire to repeat the experience.
Recovering from alcohol and drug abuse is a challenge that is best approached on an individual basis. Drug abuse resources and alcohol abuse resources share many components; however, there are important differences in the treatment needs of individuals who abuse those substances. Obtaining the best results requires careful matching of interventions, treatment processes, and even rehab settings to each person’s situation. Rehab hotlines help substance abusers and the important people in their lives determine which treatment facilities and modalities will best serve their purposes. The goal in providing drug abuse resources is always to help substance abusers cope with their addiction and return to healthy functioning in all areas of their lives, including relationships, work, and personal/spiritual fulfillment.
The decision to seek treatment is a fragile thing that is subject to timing and circumstances. Many substance abusers are fearful about entering a treatment program because they know that abstaining from a drug that they have come to see as essential will be required. If treatment is not readily available when the addict is ready to take that important first step toward recovery, the opportunity may be lost. While another opportunity may arise in the future, the earlier in the addiction process that treatment can be instituted, the better. As the addiction progresses, alterations in the body and brain become more pronounced and more entrenched. The addict’s health and well-being may decline as self-care becomes less important than the never-ending search for that next fix. As judgment becomes more impaired, the addict may put himself or herself in increasingly dangerous situations without realizing or caring about the potential threat. Obtaining help at the earliest possible point in the addiction can slow or even halt the progression of the disease, as treatment turns the substance abuser toward ultimate recovery. Drug abuse resources and alcohol abuse resources provide an abundance of information for helping you or a loved one make the life-affirming decision to seek treatment.
Alcohol and drug abuse therapy is not a one-size-fits-all prospect. It can also change over time. As the substance abuser progresses through a program, his or her needs may become different than they were at the beginning. For that reason, ongoing assessment is usually a valuable part of any treatment for substance abuse. It’s important to determine the needs of the individual as each milestone in recovery is reached, as additional issues can reveal themselves at any point. A new program, new therapy, or new setting may become appropriate.
Drug addiction can lead to numerous medical problems, including stroke, cancer, hepatitis B and C, and cardiovascular disease. Drug abuse resources provide information about the specific types of medical issues that can result from abusing certain substances. The following are examples of medical complications related to the abuse of specific drugs:
- Alcohol abuse can damage the brain, leading to impairment of problem-solving and decision-making abilities, memory loss, decreased learning ability, and problems with coordination.
- Marijuana abuse can adversely affect the ability to focus and may lead to memory problems and poor coordination. An increased heart rate and lung damage are additional side effects.
- Cocaine abuse can seriously damage the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems.
- Heroin and other opioid drugs inhibit breathing and increase the likelihood of succumbing to infectious diseases.
- Amphetamines increase body temperature and can cause seizures and heart malfunctions.
- Ecstasy increases blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, and it has the potential to damage nerve cells.
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