GUEST POST - Holly Klamer: How do you know when someone needs help for addiction
Updated: Jul 25
According to ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine), addiction is a chronic disease that negatively affects the brain's motivation, memory functions, and reward mechanism.
A person battling addiction will have uncontrolled cravings to use a substance or engage in problematic behavior/habit. The compulsion is so strong that they may start to ignore all other areas of their life to fulfill their desire.
Types of Addictions
Generally addiction implies substance abuse disorder that requires treatment. However, addiction can take many forms including problematic behaviors and habits like gambling addiction, addiction to shopping, the internet, sex, etc.
It’s only an addiction when the person is unable to abstain from the said behavior, habits, or substance despite their best efforts. In most cases, it’s taxing for their physical and mental health.
A person can develop a dependence on any or a combination of the following substances -
Tobacco or nicotine
Alcohol, often requiring inpatient alcoholism treatment
Marijuana, LSD, and other illicit/non-illicit drugs
Inhalants like oven cleaners, aerosol products, spray paints, etc.
Anxiety medication like benzodiazepines
Cocaine, Heroin and other drugs.
It’s easy to think that behavioral addictions are not as threatening as substance dependence. However, they both carry a similar set of negative consequences. Common addiction-related behaviors and habits are -
Too much working
Playing video games
Addiction to media/internet
Signs That Your Addiction Needs Treatment
If you notice the following signs, take those as a hint that you need treatment -
Inability to control or stay away from the problematic behavior and/or substance
Ignoring relationships, work commitments
Indulging in risky behaviors like sharing needles
Physical symptoms like loss of weight, appearing out of the zone and needing a higher dose to achieve the same effects.
Personality changes like anger and violence.
These are just some symptoms. The degree may vary based on how old the addiction is.
What Are The Treatment Options for Addiction?
Before the treatment program can begin, you will have to go through detox. The idea is to rid the body of remaining substances to give you a clean start. There are both specialized drug detox and alcohol detox programs available. Because this period can be painful due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, a team of doctors will monitor the patient.
In most cases, the clinic would use medication to manage withdrawal. Medication becomes necessary when the person is battling multiple addictions.
Counseling and Behavioral Therapies
This phase usually comes right after the detoxification is successfully over. Therapy can take place in both individual and group sessions. It can even involve family members depending on each individual and his/her needs.
The sessions are more frequent at the beginning of the treatment. But, with time - as symptoms improve, they gradually become less frequent.
Here are the most popular types of therapies -
CBT - Short for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT focuses on recognizing and working on negative ways of thinking that are causing SUD.
Multidimensional family therapy is another one that focuses on improving family relations, functioning, and dynamics around the person suffering from the substance disorder.
Motivational interviewing encourages a person to commit to a healthy lifestyle and a willingness to make necessary changes.
Motivational incentive therapy uses awards to instil positive reinforcements.
Addiction rehab programs are long-term programs that can effectively treat addictive behaviors and substance issues. It focuses on maintaining a drug-free lifestyle before you can resume your regular social, family, and professional life.
These programs are conducted by fully licensed facilities that provide structured, 24/7 care in a safe environment. Residents get all the necessary supplies, help, medical intervention, and assistance they need.
Short-term Residential Rehab Program - This typically includes detox and intense counseling to prepare the individual to commit to long-term recovery.
Therapeutic communities - Anyone seeking a long-term program should enroll in a therapeutic community where they can reside for anywhere between 6-12 months. The onsite staff helps with the recovery. A long term addiction treatment program is best for people battling more intense and severe forms of addiction. The staff and community are the key factors that encourage recovery and healthy attitude changes to live a drug-free life.
Recovery Housing - You can stay at a recovery house after going through successful treatment. It prepares you for the final stages of recovery before you can resume your normal life. The stay is short and supervised where you get to take on responsibilities. It gives you a sense of new and independent life; the one without drugs and addiction. Most recovery houses offer help with finding work, handling finances, and establishing a sense of connection with reality.
Most doctors would prescribe medication during the detox phase. However, it’s possible to continue them for a long term to manage the possible complications later on. It all depends on the person.
Long-term medications can reduce, manage, and prevent relapses. They can keep the recovery ongoing. Below are the commonest medications prescribed during addiction treatment
Naltrexone - It blocks opioid receptors in the brain responsible for euphoria and reward mechanisms.
Acamprosate - This is used to manage withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and restlessness.
Antabuse or Disulfiram - This medication disrupts how the alcohol breaks down and leads to adverse effects on alcohol consumption.
If you or someone you know is battling addictive behavior or substance abuse, seek expert help as soon as possible. Recovery may be difficult but it’s not impossible.
Holly Klamer is a writer for recoveryinn.org