Addiction is a terrible affliction that spans a pretty broad spectrum. You can get addicted to food, money, love, sex… anything, really. Today we’ll be dealing with illegal substance abuse – addiction to drugs.
What Is Drug Addiction?
The DSM-IV says that drug addiction (defined as a substance abuse disorder) is the repeated use of a chemical substance, despite negative situations emerging as a result.
A lot of addicts choose to refuse that they have a problem. They will hide in a shroud of denial, believing themselves to be nothing more than casual drug users.
The DSM-IV gives a pretty clear definition of what constitutes a substance abuse problem, but it can still be easy for some addicts to hide from the truth. As an addict, I didn’t consider losing my job to be a negative impact to my life – I thought it was great! No problem. My friends and family weren’t so naive, though. They could see from a mile away that my drug use was becoming problematic.
Accepting That You Have A Problem
Before an addict can hope to find help, they must accept that they have a problem. Oftentimes, this realization is enough to set them on a path toward seeking help. Unfortunately, simply accepting their problem is often the most difficult part of any drug addict’s recovery.
If you’re reading this, you might already be aware that you have a drug dependency problem. If you’re contemplating the possibility that you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, then you deserve congratulations! Substance abusers don’t have access to nearly as much help as they need, so you’re doing the world – and yourself – a favour.
Signs You Might Have A Drug Problem
- Have you missed work, meetings, or engagements to score drugs?
- Do you experience withdrawal effects in between doses of drugs?
- Have you lost friends or noticed that most of your friends are now drug users?
These are common signs of drug dependency. Even if all three of these ring true, you might not be convinced that you have a problem – but these preemptive signs warn of a downhill spiral. The sooner you admit you have a problem, the sooner you can fix it. If you’re lucky, you can catch it before it does damage.
What to Do When You Realize You Have a Problem
There are lots of different options for those hoping to go clean!
Rehabilitation is a term that can be applied to a monitored treatment program.
Inpatient rehab is a treatment that’s completed entirely at a facility. The addict will be admitted and released after a certain amount of time has passed, or after they’ve proved themselves to be sober.
Outpatient rehab can consist of a variety of programs designed for the addict to complete on their own time, not necessarily within the facility.
Rehabilitation can include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Face-to-face sessions
- Support groups
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Intensive detox
This is generally best to avoid unless your habit is fairly small. It can be extremely dangerous to quit cold turkey.
Cold turkey is the abrupt cessation of all drug use, and is named after the goosebumps people might get during acute withdrawal that makes their skin looked like a plucked turkey’s skin. Many drugs can send you into withdrawal if you abruptly stop using them. Withdrawal from certain drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines can be fatal.
For this reason, taper programs are often recommended. A taper is the gradual decrease of your substance intake. Tapering will ultimately reduce the dependency and the ensuing withdrawal, prior to stopping your usage.
Some people are unable to quit, even with the help of a rehab program. For some of these folk, enrolling in a maintenance program might be their best option.
Maintenance programs are set in place to regulate the drug intake of a user who can’t stop using street drugs. They allow for prescribed dosage of similar substances, so the addict can return to a stable life without the illegal, risky lifestyle associated with street drug addiction.
- Methadone maintenance is popular for heroin addicts attempting to recover.
Don’t go on maintenance unless you’ve tried and failed to quit. Many people end up on maintenance programs for life. Maintenance programs are touted to be the best way to perform a scheduled taper, but they often result in even more serious dependencies.
Finding a Rehab Facility
If you think rehab is the best option, decide what type of rehab is best suited for you. This can be discussed with friends, family, or anyone else who knows about your problem. It’s good to have as much support as possible, so make sure you’ve been honest with your loved ones. They can assist you in making choices, help with your finances, and offer emotional support.
If your habit is huge, or you can’t make it through the withdrawals without relapsing or facing serious health problems, try and get into an inpatient rehab. These can be quite costly, but have a much higher rate of success.
Outpatient rehabs are much more lenient, which can be a blessing and a curse. There is much more freedom, which can be good:
- There are less restrictions, since you’re not confined to a facility
- This causes less stress
- There’s more access to personal supports, entertainment, etc.
- It’s easier to relapse
- You’re less regulated
- There’s less medical supervision
Detox at Home
Again, this is dangerous.
Do not attempt to detox at home without a proper drug detox kit and the proper knowledge of what withdrawal does to your body. Make sure someone knows what you’re about to attempt, and preferably have a sitter available on standby.
Your best option is to set up your own taper plan. Decrease your dosage by a bit each week, giving enough time for your body to adjust to your new doses. Once you are stable at a very low dose, you can begin skipping days. After several weeks of this you will be able to use your last tiny dose, deal with the (hopefully) mild withdrawals, and return to sober living
Many addicts find home tapering plans extremely difficult. Without a medical supervisor, they can only taper by using extreme willpower; instead of having prescribed doses, they must regulate their own drug use without indulging. The constant temptation to use their regular dosage to get high often gets the best of an addict.
I Have a Drug Problem…
Don’t waste any time. It doesn’t matter if your problem is small. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only missed a single day of work due to drugs. You should quit. Justifying usage after making one mistake, no matter how small, shows that you’ll continue risking further problems. Without a significant change in behaviour, things will only get worse. Stop while you’re ahead!