A Guide for Teens and Adults Facing Addiction
Drug addiction impacts millions of Americans from all walks of life and assuming that it is the problem of just one demographic group is ill-informed and dangerous. The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a teenage high school student or a middle-aged adult with a career; substance abuse can easily wreak havoc in your life and have permanent consequences.
Nearly 24.6 million Americans age 12 and up used an illicit drug within the past month, according to a 2013 study. That’s up from 8.3 percent a decade prior to the study. About 16.3 million adults in the U.S. are alcoholics and about 679,000 youths can be classified as alcoholics.
Many adults and teens with substance abuse problems have no idea that their use of drugs and alcohol is a problem, particularly those who are high-functioning. Sooner or later, however, the consequences of abuse will manifest themselves. For some, it may mean getting a DUI.
For others, the abuse of drugs or alcohol may result in serious health problems. Many will suffer setbacks in their personal or professional lives as their substance abuse causes them to ignore important relationships, make bad choices, or drop the ball on critical tasks or projects.
Outpatient addiction treatment can help, but it can only help if the addict realizes he or she has a problem and earnestly seeks help. Families and friends can aid in this process by recognizing the signs of substance abuse and convincing the addict to see the truth concerning his or her consumption of alcohol or illegal substances.
The sad fact is that only very few people suffering from drug or alcohol abuse ever go to therapy or participate in an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program. For example, a recent study by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that 80 percent of people with an opioid addiction are not getting help.
Availability of programs and punitive criminal policies are part of the problem, but a lack of awareness of the problem by addicts and their families also contributes to the low number of drug and alcohol addicts who seek help.
How to Know if You’re an Addict
If you suspect you are an addict, it is likely that you may be substance-dependent. To help you recognize the scope of your problem, consider these signs of addiction:
- Physical symptoms of addiction – People addicted to drugs or alcohol will often demonstrate physical symptoms of their addiction. They may feel frequent cravings for the substance they are addicted to and go through withdrawal if they stop satisfying these cravings. Typical withdrawal symptoms include shaking, headaches, sweating, and diarrhea. Addicts will often find that as their addiction progresses, it gets harder and harder to get the desired effect of drugs or alcohol. They develop a tolerance for the substance they are abusing and getting the same feeling requires a larger amount of the substance.
Dishonesty – Addicts often cover up the severity of their problem by lying about it. They may sneak out of the house to drink or use drugs. They may have frequent absences from work, school, or family activities and lie about the nature of these absences. They may engage in activities to conceal their consumption of alcohol or illicit substances, such as hiding bottles or drug paraphernalia. These lies will eventually erode trust between the addict and his or her family, friends, and employer, and it can result in some very real personal consequences.
- Growing expenses – Feeding an addiction isn’t cheap, and many addicts have ruined themselves financially pursuing the next drink, high, or fix. If you can see that your drug of choice is costing you increasing amounts and causing you to fall into poor financial habits like not paying bills or running up debt, the time has come to seek an outpatient substance abuse program.
- Your thoughts revolve around drugs or alcohol – If your day is largely consumed with drugs or alcohol – where to get it, how to deal with hangovers or withdrawal, how to get money for it, etc.—it’s very likely that you are an addict. Addicts spend nearly all their time fixated on their substance of choice, to the detriment of work, home, school, and other activities. Things you were once enthusiastic about pale in comparison to finding your next drink or fix.
- You have no control over your consumption – Once you start drinking or doing your drug of choice, you have no control over your use. You’ll want to continue until you’ve exhausted your supply or become sick. Efforts to slow down or curtail abuse always crumble.
- You cannot quit – You are completely unable to go without alcohol or drugs. Even if you are able to stop for a while, you eventually always return to your habit.
Why Drugs Are So Hard to Quit
There are no easy solutions for men and women who wish to quit abusing drugs or alcohol. Recovery is a lifelong process at which addicts must constantly work at to remain drug- and alcohol-free. There are a variety of physiological and psychological reasons why drugs and alcohol are so difficult to abstain from if you are an addict. Some of the most well-known include:
- Over time, drugs and alcohol can change the way the brain operates. These substances change how the body processes chemicals released by the brain when people feel pleasure. Gradually, the substances become the key source of pleasure for the addict, and, when they’re withdrawn, the addict has difficulty in feeling pleasure without them. In time, the addict will be able to feel pleasure without drugs or alcohol but the draw of these substances will always be there.
- For many users, drugs and alcohol are a way of dealing with stress. A recovering addict may do well for a time, but, when a stressful life event occurs – a job loss, the death of a loved one, increased responsibilities, etc. – the temptation to use drugs or alcohol may take hold.
- Denial is also a big reason why many addicts are never able to quit their addiction. Despite all the evidence before them and the pleading of their friends and family, many addicts simply refuse to come to terms with the reality of their addiction. Helping teens and adults overcome this denial is essential to convincing them to seek the help they need. Because teens often feel that they are invincible, they can be some of the hardest addicts to convince that a problem exists.
- Withdrawal symptoms are another major stumbling block to addiction recovery. Many drugs, such as heroin and opioids, can leave addicts with harsh withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. These symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and painful, and addicts attempting to go it alone without medical advice or counseling often relapse into use because of their severity.
Finding medical and psychological help is key to overcoming a drug addiction. RECO Intensive provides intensive outpatient rehab programs designed to care for the individual needs of addicts.
RECO Intensive’s outpatient rehab provides thorough and comprehensive therapy and support group services to help its clients maintain their sobriety. RECO Intensive has a highly professional and well-trained staff with years of experience in helping men and women with substance issues get on and stay on the road to recovery.
If you’re an addict or know an addict, contact RECO Intensive to learn more about how you can kick your habit and regain control over your life.