Drug abuse refers to consuming illegal or prescription drugs in large amounts for pleasure rather than their actual purpose. Drug abuse not only leads to social, mental, and physical problems but can also eventually lead to drug addiction. Drug addiction is a chronic and relapsing disorder that causes compulsive drug cravings, thus creating a vicious cycle.
Continuous drug abuse leads to functional changes in the brain circuits. These changes alter the brain’s functions towards stress, reward, and self-control, which can have lasting effects on the user. In this article, we will discuss the leading causes of drug abuse, how to overcome drug abuse, and how to maintain sobriety.
Why do people abuse drugs?
- Peer pressure: Some people try drugs because they are merely curious about it. Impressionable people like young adults and teenagers are at high risk of being socially pressured into trying drugs.
- To combat mental health issues: Some people who suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress resort to drug use to feel better.
- To feel euphoric: Using drugs can give you intensely pleasurable feelings. Some drugs like cocaine make you feel confident and energized, along with euphoria, while others can make you feel relaxed and calm.
- To study: Some drugs can improve your focus and concentration, so many students use them during their exams to help improve their performance.
Everyone is equally at risk of drug abuse, but some factions are more vulnerable to it because of their proximity to risk factors such as:
- Abuse and trauma
- Lack of parental care
- Method of drug use; some methods such as injection or smoking are more prone to addiction.
- Mental illnesses
How can you overcome drug abuse?
Overcoming drug abuse can feel like a daunting task, but it is not impossible. Drug addiction is preventable and can be treated. If you are addicted to drugs or are using drugs, there is no reason to lose hope. Here are a few ways by which you can overcome drug abuse:
1. Accept your illness
The first and the most challenging step in treating drug abuse is admitting that you have a problem. Most people are in denial and, therefore, never take the first step towards overcoming drug abuse. You cannot fix a problem unless you accept the fact that you have a problem.
2. Seek help
Prolonged drug abuse can alter your brain’s chemical balance, which is why overcoming drug addiction cannot be achieved through sheer willpower. You need to seek help from professionals who can help you through your recovery journey.
3. Explore your treatment options
There are many kinds of drugs, and each drug addiction requires different treatment plans. However, most recovery programs include these five crucial steps:
- Detoxification: This is the first and most challenging step. For any treatment plan to work, it is essential to rid your body of all drug residues.
- Medication: During detoxification, an addict suffers from a wide range of withdrawal symptoms. Many people who are dependent on drugs to keep their mental illnesses at bay can experience extreme forms of these illnesses. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain and treat these withdrawal symptoms with appropriate medication.
- Behavioral Therapy: During these therapy sessions, professionals can help you identify and manage your root causes for drug abuse. These sessions aim to teach you healthier alternatives to cope with the problems that led you to drug use.
- Follow-up treatment: Behavioral therapy sessions include follow-up treatments to track your progress and keep your cravings in check.
- Long term care: Relapses are natural and predicted by most health professionals. Long term care provides help in preventing relapses through regular support group meetings.
4. Choose a treatment program
Different individuals require different treatment programs. These programs should be customized to address your unique needs. They should also address other aspects of your life, such as relationships, health, career, and mental well being that can lead to a relapse.
Here are a few treatment programs you can choose from:
- Residential treatment: This program involves living in a facility away from work, school, and family.
- Day Treatment/Partial hospitalization: This program is for people who want to live at home but require medical monitoring.
- Outpatient treatment: This treatment program offers outpatient programs that can be scheduled to accommodate your daily life.
- Sober living communities: This program allows you to live in a safe facility with other recovering addicts.
5. Friends and family support
Drug abuse cannot be overcome alone. No matter what treatment program you choose, you must always reach out for support from friends and family. This strong foundation of support can be invaluable during recovery. A support system can positively influence your treatment as well as prevent relapses.
If your immediate support system revolves around drugs, it is crucial that you make new connections with sober people who can help you during your recovery.
Tips on how to manage your cravings
Drug cravings are particularly intense during the recovery, so it is vital to keep them in check. Here are a few ways you can manage your cravings:
- Distance yourself from other drug users. Make new friends and strive for sobriety.
- Avoid places where you can easily succumb to your desires, such as bars and clubs.
- When you need medical attention, be open about your drug abuse history. Even if it is a simple dental procedure, if your doctor knows of your drug abuse history, they can administer appropriate medication for you.
- Be careful around prescription drugs with high abuse potential. Your doctor may be able to prescribe you alternative drugs that do not have high abuse potential.
Relapses are natural during recovery. They can be frustrating and discouraging, but you can use them to correct your mistakes. Relapses can even help you determine what didn’t work for you. For instance, your treatment program may not have been the right fit for you, so next time you can decide on a different program. A relapse does not mean your drug abuse treatment was a failure; it simply means that you need to identify what went wrong and fix it.