The effect that addiction can have on so many individuals is massive. Let’s be honest here; most other people are of the opinion that drug addicts and alcoholics are harming only themselves. Some may even go so far as to say they should be left alone to get on with their addictive behaviour if they are unwilling to stop. This attitude is often adopted by those with little knowledge or understanding of addiction, but it can be very unhelpful and it is actually incorrect. Those affected by addiction have not chosen this life. They are not addicted to drugs or alcohol because of poor decisions made or because they are weak. They have not decided that they would actually like to be an addict – why would anyone choose a life like this? They are addicted because of changes that have occurred in their brains due to the chemicals they have consumed. And what’s more, anyone can be affected by addiction if they use mood-altering substances. Those who are affected though need help, which is why we are going to talk about why addiction treatment is important.
Who Is Affected by Addiction?
As mentioned above, the topic of addiction is one that is surrounded by misunderstanding and incorrect information. Negative stereotyping of addiction has led many to believe that only a certain type of person is affected and that it is not actually an illness but more a consequence of actions on the part of the addict.
This is absolutely incorrect; anyone can develop an addiction, no matter where he or she comes from or how much money he or she has. And the addict is no more to blame for his or her illness than individuals with cancer are for theirs.
Addiction does not discriminate. It is not an illness reserved for those from deprived backgrounds or individuals who have left school early. The way that addiction is often portrayed in the media means that most people assume that drug addicts and alcoholics are down and outs from the poorest areas. The reality is that irrespective of being young or old, rich or poor, addiction affects them all.
In fact, most addicts are just like everyone else, and many can hide their illness from others – for a while at least. To the outside world, they may appear to have everything. Some have great jobs, loving families, and nice homes, and their neighbours and colleagues at work would be horrified to know that they are actually struggling to function without alcohol or prescription medication, for example.
The only thing that all addicts have in common is a need for treatment. Without it, their situations will get progressively worse, until eventually reaching a point where they are unable to hide their illness any longer.
How Addiction Affects Lives?
The most obvious victim of addiction is the person with the illness. He or she will usually be physically dependent on drugs or alcohol and may find it difficult to get through each day without reaching for his or her drug of choice.
Abuse of chemical substances such as drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication can have a detrimental impact on both mental and physical health. It is often the case that the addict may not notice the subtle changes in the early days. There may not even be any major health problems to speak of, but it is impossible to abuse such substances without these taking their toll on the body. What is happening internally may be an entirely different matter and it is only a matter of time before these issues begin to manifest.
Various illnesses have been linked with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. These include, but are not limited to:
- high blood pressure
- kidney disease
- lung disease
- hepatitis C
- heart disease
- liver disease
The longer a person abuses drugs or alcohol, the higher the likelihood that he or she will suffer long-term health problems in the future. This is what makes addiction treatment so important – the sooner an affected individual gets help, the less chance that he or she will develop life-threatening illnesses.
However, it is not just health problems that makes addiction treatment so vital. The harm that is caused by addiction is not limited to the individual, and is not limited to his or her health, either. While the addict will inevitably suffer mental and physical health issues, he or she will also notice a deterioration in his or her relationships with family members, friends, colleagues, and others.
Addiction changes the way a person behaves and he or she often becomes selfish and self-centred. As their addiction progresses, all they care about is the substance to which they are addicted. Nothing else matters, and this includes those they love, their job and any responsibilities they may have. To them, it is all about the next drink or the next fix, and their lives will revolve around how they are going to get it.
When addiction affects one member of a family, everyone else feels the impact of this destructive illness. Some individuals will react by trying everything in their power to help the addict. Some will become obsessed with it and their own behaviour may change as their life start to revolve around the addict. They are said to be co-dependent; i.e. they too have a dependency, only they are dependent on the addict and not on a substance.
The impact of addiction on so many people can never be understated and is what makes addiction treatment so necessary. Children, for example, may be deeply traumatised by a parent’s addiction. In many instances, the kids of addicts will be neglected and many will end up in care unless extended family steps in to help. Psychological and emotional issues are often the side effect when a child has a parent with an addiction. Younger children often do not know that their mum or dad is ill and therefore cannot understand the parent’s erratic behaviour. They may blame themselves and believe they have done something to make their parent act in this unpredictable manner.
Older children with an understanding of addiction may become ashamed or embarrassed about their addicted parent and might then suffer from guilt for feeling this way. It can cause them to become withdrawn and isolated from their peers, with some preferring to be alone than to make friends and have them discover their secret. All this emotional stress can weigh heavily on a child, and many find it tough to form health relationships with others. Some will go on to suffer with addiction themselves in later life.
Can Addiction Treatment Solve the Problems Caused by Addiction?
It is true that addiction is not a curable illness. Nevertheless, it is a treatable one and it can be maintained in the long-term so that the individual and his or her family members can go on to live enjoyable lives together. It does require vigilance and commitment on the part of the individual though. Complacency can be very dangerous as it can leave a recovering addict back to where he or she started.
The good news is that with the right programme of care and support, addicts can manage to put substance abuse and addiction behind them once and for all. A good programme of recovery includes a detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare, and provided the individual is prepared to fully commit, even the most severe illness can be overcome.
A detox is required to tackle the physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. During a detox, various withdrawal symptoms tend to occur. Although most affected people will only ever experience a few mild to moderate symptoms, some will suffer severe symptoms that would need to be dealt with as an emergency.
The type of symptoms a person experiences will depend on how long he or she was addicted and the type of substance they were abusing. No one can tell what type of symptoms a person will experience until these symptoms actually occur and it is also impossible to tell how severe they will before detox begins. This is why detoxing in a supervised facility is generally accepted as the best option for most.
The detox process occurs because the body is trying to heal itself after years of abuse. Those who do manage to quit drugs and alcohol will have a great chance of improving their physical and mental health. The body is great at repairing itself but it does take time, and some ailments can persist for a while after the detox has been completed.
Once detox is finished, which should be after around seven to ten days, the patient can tackle the more complex process of the psychological addiction. Any emotional issues relating to the illness are dealt with by professional counsellors and therapists using various treatments such as individual counselling, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy, and group therapy sessions.
These issues are what led the person to develop an addiction in the first place and it is vital that they are addressed if the individual is to be able to move on to independent sober life. During rehab, treatments and techniques will also be used to help the patient avoid a return to substance use going forward.
Constant vigilance and maintenance are the keys to success when it comes to addiction recovery. When a person completes a programme of rehabilitation, aftercare support is important. Studies have shown that the first twelve months after a rehab programme is the time when the individual is most at risk of a relapse. Continued support from like-minded people and experts can help to make a recovery stronger and more stable, and this part of the recovery model should never be neglected.
If you are interested in learning more about addiction or how to recover from it, please call us here at Oasis Recovery Communities. We know why addiction treatment is important and we want you to know too. Imagine your life if you did not have to think about your next drink or next fix. Imagine being able to wake up knowing that you are free to make good decisions and good choices, and free to do all the things you have ever wanted to do, without substance abuse and addiction holding you back.
This is the life that awaits you if you make the decision to get help for your addiction right now. We urge you to call us today and allow us to help you find a programme that will suit your needs and circumstances.