Addiction is one of those words that is often not taken seriously as kids. Most schools had some anti-drug programs with the aim to prevent youth from trying drugs. Further, a lot of us as kids would always say, “not me, I’d never do drugs” – let alone become addicted. Youth drug intervention programs focus on avoiding peer pressure and bad influences. Rarely do they touch on the underlying issues people face which may pave the way for drug use. For some people, it was never as easy as saying “no”- and we understand that. Recovery for life is the goal, even with the possibility and likelihood of relapse.
What are the stages of addiction?
Addiction to drugs is a complicated beast. Drug use is oftentimes voluntary at first. It is the subsequent uses and desires caused by the drug which can lead to addiction.
Drugs make us feel good. A lot of drugs make us feel good by providing an euphoric high (such as marijuana and opioids). Alternatively, other drugs make us hallucinate which can cause a dissociative feeling of detachment from one’s mind. That is, unfortunately, the harsh truth about them. If they didn’t, substance use disorders would be less of a problem. So why is something that makes us feel good, so bad for us?
Drug use follows a pretty basic progression which can be applied in a very general sense to most drugs. Upon first use, the user will feel an immense rush of chemically induced emotions. This is something they perceive as either good or bad. Good responses will elicit further use, as your mind essentially says “I want more of whatever made me feel like that.” This also applies to other addictions such as food or sex. Our minds and bodies develop a mental connection to feeling good and whatever the catalyst may be. The challenge with preventing the first use happening is when it is through legal means such as an opioid prescription after surgery. Just because it was legally obtained and used to treat a medical issue, does not diminish its effects on the mind.
Different Stages of Addiction
Regular use begins when the user decides to make his or her drug use more predictable. For some, it may be a weekend/party vice that they partake in. For others, it may be drinking after getting home from work. As it begins to settle into a more predictable pattern, the drug becomes more important in their lives.
Risky use is the stage where people become comfortable enough with the drug that they are willing to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t, had they been sober. This includes drinking while driving or high. At this point, the user’s behavior is likely affecting their work and family life as they begin to feel more dependent on the drug. Dependence will eventually lead to developing a tolerance.
Another way of looking at it is that your body begins to adapt to the drug in order to lessen its effects because to our immune system, a drug is still a foreign object and your body would much rather be in its natural state of homeostasis. A tolerance will diminish the effect of the drug on the body, which in turn will cause you to take more the drug in order to actually feel the effects. Not only does this increase your dependence on the drug, but it can also cause an overdose if the dose reaches an unsafe level.
How does Reflections approach recovery?
Reflections Recovery Center uses a holistic approach to treatment. While we could simply treat the symptoms, it would do no good in the long run. Recovery is a lifetime goal with no expiration date. Therefore, our approach focuses on the mind, body, and soul, in addition to treating the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, with enough guidance, our patients will be able to take their lifetime recovery and sobriety into their own hands and resume living a healthy, independent life.
Some of the tools we use to develop the mind and body include adventure therapy, yoga, Reiki, team sports and even help our clients develop life skills such as cooking, interview prep, and communication skills.
What is recovery for life?
Addiction is classified as a chronic disease. This places it in the same category as other chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes and cancer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.”
Addiction also has similar relapse rates as cancer and type II diabetes. No one chooses to become an addict. Just like no one chooses to have cancer which is why it is important to look at recovery for life as the only goal. Simply managing the symptoms will open the door for relapse. This is why Reflections places such a heavy emphasis on holistic treatment and developing a relapse prevention plan. Going to rehab takes time and money, therefore, it makes no sense to try and simply manage the symptoms every time they arise or if you relapse.
Addiction is a complex issue. Reaching a lifetime of recovery and sobriety requires hard work, dedication and the attention of a trained professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.