People who have never experienced any type of addiction often find it hard to understand this illness of the brain. Drug addiction in particular is a very misunderstood illness. Those who have never been affected by it either directly or indirectly may find it tough to comprehend how someone would continue to use drugs knowing that doing so would cause negative consequences for themselves or others. It is difficult for them to understand that those affected by drug addiction have no choice over their actions. Many think that all an addict has to do is stop taking drugs and then they would not have any problems. This is simply not the case. In this article, we will talk about the various aspects of this illness and why drug addiction is not a choice.
How Does Drug Addiction Start?
There is no denying the fact that those who take illegal drugs have a choice – at least in the beginning. But drug addiction is not just limited to those who use illegal drugs. In fact, there are a growing number of individuals across the UK who have found themselves in need of treatment for a crippling drug addiction, having never touched an illegal drug in their lives. These are people who have developed a dependency on medication prescribed to them by a doctor. Prescription drug addiction is a huge problem for many individuals, and one that often occurs without the affected person even realising.
For most, drug addiction begins with experimentation. The first time they try a drug, they have a choice. They also have a choice about whether to take it again. If the individual likes the feelings he or she got, they may be tempted to try it again. In terms of prescription drugs, if the medication provides relief from severe pain, the individual is almost certainly going to want to keep taking it, especially if he or she believes it to be safe. And most people do assume that any medication prescribed by a doctor is completely safe. Nevertheless, certain medication is only available on prescription for a very good reason; it is dangerous when abused and can be highly addictive.
Regular use of illegal drugs or prescription medication can lead to an increased tolerance to the effects of the drug. The body will adapt to the presence of chemicals and will react by producing less feel-good chemicals in response. The effect of this on the individual is that he or she may feel as though they are not getting the same ‘buzz’ or relief that they once did. Those taking prescription drugs may complain that their medication is not working anymore. The temptation to take more of the drug in order to achieve the desired effects will be very strong. Unfortunately, taking more of the drug can lead to a physical dependence, which will usually be followed by addiction.
Why Addicts Have No Choice
When it comes to addiction, it is easy to say that those affected have a choice in whether to continue taking drugs or not – they do not. If drug addicts could simply stop taking drugs, then why would anyone continue to do so? It stands to reason that anyone would stop doing something that was causing harm in their lives. If they had a choice about whether to use or not, there would be no addicts in the world and no need for addiction services.
Drug addiction, like any other addiction, is a recognised illness of the brain. Those who are affected by it cannot control their urge to take the substance that will inevitably cause much harm to their lives. Brain function is altered so that the person is unable to think clearly or logically. Even when he or she is aware of the damage that their drug taking could cause, and even when he/she wants to stop using, they are unable to.
There may be periods where the person feels particularly bad about their drug abuse and will promise never to use again. These are the times when they are not feeling a strong desire to use. It could be because they are suffering the aftereffects of their drug use, or it could be in response to the way they behaved while under the influence. At these times, addicts will feel they can easily stop using. They may also promise loved ones they are going to stop using just to appease them. Addicts can be very manipulative when it comes to getting what they want. Nonetheless, one thing is certain; most are powerless to resist the strong cravings that will come when the effects of the substance they are addicted to begin to wear off.
The Negative Consequences of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction has so many negative consequences, not only for the user but also for those around them. To say that addiction is confined to the individual is just wrong; it is estimated that for every one person with addiction a further five are negatively affected. Family members are usually the ones who are deeply affected by a loved one’s addiction, but friends and colleagues can also suffer. In addition, entire communities and society in general is negatively affected by addiction.
When it comes to the individual, poor health is probably the biggest consequence of addiction. There are many different illnesses linked to addiction including heart disease, liver disease, lung damage, depression, anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, and cancer.
It is not just health that they have to worry about, though. Drug addiction affects many areas of a person’s life, including relationships and finances. Drug addiction is responsible for poor health, unemployment, divorce, poverty, homelessness, and premature death. Thinking about the many problems that drug addicts face, it is easier to comprehend why drug addiction is not a choice.
Is it Possible to Overcome a Drug Addiction?
Those who find themselves addicted to drugs, be it illegal or prescription drugs, will find it almost impossible to break free without help. There are some who realise quite early in their illness that they are in trouble, but with plenty of support from family members and friends, the affected person may be able to get clean on their own.
However, those who have been struggling with drug addiction for a long time will find it very challenging to stay away from their drug of choice, particularly when withdrawal symptoms begin. Knowing that taking the drug they are addicted to is all they need to do to make the painful symptoms of withdrawal subside is usually all that is required for the individual to return to drug use again.
For most people with a physical addiction to drugs, professional help is required. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even with the best counsellors and therapists, it will be impossible to overcome addiction without motivation and commitment from the addict.
Family members often believe that if they can just force their loved one into rehab, everything will be alright; this rarely works. The addict must want to get better and must be prepared for the massive changes that he or she will have to make. There is only so much that dedicated staff at rehab clinics around the UK can do. They will offer guidance and support to patients, but they cannot recover for them.
The good news is that if the addict is ready for change and wants a substance-free life, there are many fantastic programmes that can help them get their lives back on track. Here at Middlegate, we work with treatment providers throughout the UK including the NHS, charities, local support groups, and private clinics. We can help clients to find a provider that will work for them.
If you are thinking that you or a loved one would benefit from a rehab programme for a drug addiction, now is the perfect time to get in touch with us. There is no point in putting it off any longer; the sooner you get started, the sooner you can put substance abuse behind you once and for all.
What Are Recovery Programmes Like Though?
Recovery programmes are designed around the needs of the individual patient these days, but all will include a physical detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare. To improve your chances of a successful long-term recovery, it is important to commit to each element of the programme.
A detox will deal with the physical addiction and will help the patient to get clean and sober before treatment can begin. This is an essential part of the recovery programme because the patient will need to have a clear mind and body before starting rehabilitation. Nonetheless, detox is never enough when it comes to beating addiction. It is responsible for tackling the physical aspect of the illness but emotional and psychological issues must also be treated, and this will only take place during rehabilitation.
Rehab programmes are designed to help the patient get to the root cause of the illness. Counsellors and therapists work closely with the patient and through one-to-one counselling and group therapy programmes, the recovering addict will learn more about the illness and why he or she was affected.
Various tools and skills will also be taught so that the patient will be ready to return to independent sober living and be in a position to become a productive member of society. Life and work skills usually form part of a comprehensive recovery programme, and patients will also be shown how to avoid a relapse going forward.
A return to everyday life is something that many recovering addicts fear because of the worry that they will not be able to cope. They will have lost the crutch of constant care and support from professional staff at their rehab clinic and fear that now on their own they will not be able to manage.
It is for this reason that the first twelve months after rehab are a time when recovering addicts are considered most vulnerable to relapse. And it is this which makes aftercare services so important. Aftercare is typically provided by the rehab clinic for up to one year, and this may mean that the patient will continue having regular counselling sessions or can have contact with their counsellor or therapist as and when needed.
Local support groups are also a fantastic aftercare resource for those who have returned to independent sober living. Most rehab clinics encourage their patients to get involved with their local fellowship programme, and many adopt the 12-step principles into their programmes because they know that it works.
For more information on rehab programmes designed around the individual, please contact us here at Middlegate. We can help you to quickly and easily find a rehab provider to suit your needs. Our service is free and completely confidential. If you are ready to move on to treatment, we will begin working for you immediately. However, you are under no obligation to enter a rehab programme just by talking to us.
We understand that you may want to test the waters and find out more about rehab and what it might mean for you before taking that next step. With this in mind, you might be glad to hear that many of our advisors have been where you are now – they have already completed their recovery journeys and are living proof that recovery is possible. No matter how severe you think your illness is, we can assure you that you can overcome it if you have the right help and support and a programme that has been designed for you.
Please do not delay any longer, call Middlegate now to find out more about our service and how we can help you get your life back on track.