Good article on how addiction and the brain works. The process of addiction and how it alters the brain is a complex process. Drugs themselves inhibit the ability of neurotransmitters to work properly. It also negatively affects dopamine outputs. Through rehab and new coping strategies these things can be reversed but addiction in the brain is a powerful thing to overcome.
The article, “Addicted Brain: Dopamine and Substance Abuse” by Eric Hamilton states,
“People suffering from addiction are not always eager to go to rehab centers to treat their addiction. They may feel insecure, scared of judgments or just not motivated enough. Naturally, it’s hard to admit that their problem is that serious.”
Substance Abuse is a national crisis. The use of drugs ranging from merely recreational to more mind altering is affecting all ages and destroying families and lives. In the recent year of 2017, 19.7 million Americans ranging from 12 years and older suffered from addiction. Regarding alcohol, of those addicted, 74 percent dealt with misuse, while 38 percent dealt with illicit drug use. In all, 740 billion was spent or lost on the issue. From workplace hours lost, healthcare expenses and criminal related costs, the amount of money, time and effort to curb this type of abuse is staggering. (1)
The national crisis continues in both 2018 and 2019 to show similar trends. Whether it is basic addiction with beer and liquor, or through the darker use of heroin, cocaine, or meth, addiction is tearing the fabric of the nation apart. So what is the source of this problem? What is the underlying issues that are tearing apart so many lives? It is important to understand addiction and what causes it to fight the root of this social epidemic.
Addiction can be mental or physical. In essence, it is a dependence upon other substances or habits to escape a reality or replace something loss. The dependence can very in extremes. Obviously physical addictions can be the most dangerous. Physical addictions enslave the person to the necessity of a foreign substance to properly function. Mental addictions can also entrap someone into habits that can become very hard to escape. These habits can be substances or also things or functions such as gaming or gambling.
While smoking, drinking and illicit drugs are the most common form of addictions one first thinks of, one must also be aware that addiction can involve other habits, ranging from gaming and gambling to even sex. The addiction is the outlet or inappropriate escape from a reality. Addiction to a substance can itself can be genetic and nearly 40 to 60 percent of Americans can fall prey to this, but many forms of addiction are due to lack of contentment.
All human beings look to find happiness in this life. Some have an easier time and are blessed with family life, love, a home and hobbies, but many are constantly searching for happiness. Happiness is something that can never be complete in temporal reality. So individuals who seek to find happiness in material things only will be greatly disappointed when those things break or are stolen. Others who place their whole stock of happiness in others can also find despair and loss. People break relationships, or even worst, our most loved ones eventually die. So while love is far more noble than possessions, even the happiness afforded from love can be lost in this world.
The lack of a strong spiritual and moral compass is a big problem for despair and while spiritual people tend to cope better, it does not mean spiritual and religious people are immune to drug use and addictive behaviors. Spiritual people can lose faith and suffer break downs.
Ultimately, it is how one copes with loss and despair. How well can one cope will determine how healthy their reactions are to grief and loss. Support and other environmental issues are obviously important in determining how well individuals cope as well. While some individuals may be strong and able to handle adversity, many are not. Bad family life at a young age, trauma, mental issues, and other financial issues limit some to the ability to cope with adversity.
This opens many to the lure of addictions. The need to escape reality and cope through illicit means to smother the pain and the loss. It is because of this that many individuals find themselves in the vicious cycle of addiction. The new illusion of happiness leads them down dark paths that they are unaware of. Instead of killing the pain, the addictions only break the individual further down.
Substance abuse is a way individuals look to cope. This unfortunate fact leads to the national crisis now faced. Here are some sobering facts. 4 percent of the adolescent population faces some sort of addiction problem. That is 1 in every 25 teenagers. 3.4 million young adults, aged between 18 and 25 suffer from addiction. That is around 10 percent of the young adult population. 2,5 million are involved with illicit drug use. For ages 26 and older, there were over 13 million cases of substance abuse in 2017. 4.3 million involved illicit drug use. Ages of 65 and older reported around 1 million suffering from substance abuse. (2)
The largest drug abused obviously is alcohol. As a legal drug, anyone over 21 may purchase which leaves it open to almost everyone to encounter with minimal penalties. 14.5 million individuals in 2017 accounted for alcohol related addiction statistics. An estimated 88, 000 people died in 2017 due to alcohol related deaths and the health issues related to drinking are even higher. While drinking may seem to be a normal thing, it is also one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States, ranking third. (3)
In regards to other uses of drugs, marijuana contributed to 4.1 million people. With many states looking to legalize marijuana, the illegal nature of it will no longer be an issue, but like any addiction, whether legal or illegal, it still can have its consequences. Marijuana is a gateway drug to many other dangerous drugs and opens the mind to exploring different forms of ways to cope with stress, trauma and depression. (3)
Experimentation with prescription drugs, in particular pain relievers is on the rise. 1.7 million people misused pain relievers in 2017, leading to multiple stricter laws in the use of them within the medical field. This attempt to curb misuse has led to less effective pain management strategies for individuals who really need the pain relief. The biggest issue is how to balance need against risk of addiction. In addition to prescription pills, 2017 saw 652,00 cases of Heroin use. The deadly reality of Heroin is that 25 percent of its users become physically addicted. Cocaine also saw 966,00 cases of addiction. (4)
These figures towards more dangerous and addicting drugs and the emergence of Meth show a big problem in America with regards to substance abuse. If one adds, smoking, vaping, and other addictions ranging from gambling and gaming to sex, one can see a true problem in emerging in how Americans cope with stress, trauma, depression and loss. Counseling is a big first step not only to help individuals cope with addiction and the cause of it, but also preventative counseling in forms of stress, anger, and grief counseling.
Substance Abuse Counseling Certification
The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers a Substance Abuse Counseling Certification for qualified professionals who seek to help others deal with addiction and properly cope with real life issues. The program is online and independent study. The certification for Substance Abuse Counseling lasts four years and can be renewed.
Licensed counselors and those who have the necessary education and work in addiction facilities are eligible to become certified in Substance Abuse Counseling. If you are interested and would like to help curb this problem in America, then please consider the Substance Abuse Counseling Certification from AIHCP and see if it meets your academic and professional needs.
Pharmacies and pharmacists are not immune to substance abuse. With the access they have and the professional livelihood at risk, it is important for ethical use of their position. Not only with themselves but with how drugs are dispensed.
The article, “Substance Abuse Poses Challenges in Pharmacies” by Ned Milenkovich states,
“A state pharmacy board generally does not allow a pharmacist to resume practicing if evidence shows that the individual in question has been involved in substance abuse. ”
Drugs do not only affect one physically but also mentally. One’s overall mental health is affected in various different ways with different types of drugs.
The article, “How alcohol and drugs affect your mental health” lists a variety of drugs and how they differently affect one’s mental health. Rob Crossan states,
“Most studies of alcohol’s effect on mental health have focused on the most severe addicts, who had almost completely dropped out of society. However, research revealed in the British Medical Journal in 2017 is genuinely game-changing”
Often, mental illness and drug addiction go hand in hand. This is because when people use drugs, it is typically due to an underlying mental issue, such as depression and anxiety. Also, using drugs can trigger various types of mental disorders. Therefore, it is important to take a comprehensive approach when treating patients in order to determine if they have a mental disorder that needs to be addressed along with their treatment for addiction. The following information will provide a closer look at ways you can help patients who are suffering from both conditions in order to ensure a full and lasting recovery:
Develop an Integrated Treatment Plan
An integrated treatment plan will help to effectively address both the mental illness and the addiction. Examples of helpful methods include starting off with a medical detox when necessary. This will allow the patient to come off of the drugs or alcohol in a safe way. Once this is completed, the patient should be thoroughly evaluated in order to determine a proper diagnosis as well as a proper recovery plan. From here, it can be helpful to provide the patient with various types of therapy, such as one-on-one sessions and group sessions. This will allow them to work through their underlying issues that lead to addiction in the first place and can also give them the opportunity to relate to and empathize with others in a similar situation, which will show them that they are not alone and that they can work through their problems with others, which can help to achieve more meaningful and lasting results. Overall, a dual diagnosis treatment program can allow the patient to focus on healing from both their mental illness as well as their addiction and develop effective coping mechanisms for both issues.
Create an Aftercare Plan
Both mental illness and addiction can be an ongoing issue. Therefore, you will need to ensure that you provide patients with the proper tools they need to succeed beyond just the recovery phase. It can be helpful to encourage patients to continue attending therapy sessions during their transition back into normal life. It can also be beneficial to ensure that the patient is able to build a strong support system and is able to successfully navigate conflict. By building a support system, this will ensure that they have people who are there to help them during difficult times, and learning to effectively navigate conflict will ensure that they don’t become too overwhelmed when things go wrong, which will ensure they are able to fight the temptation to use again.
Overall, dealing with both addiction and mental illness can be a difficult process. There are likely many underlying issues that will need to be addressed and worked through. The aforementioned information makes a great starting point in order to ensure that patients are able to fully recover and go on to live normal healthy lives. Reintegrating back into society can often be difficult. So, it is important that you take the proper steps to ensure that patients are well-prepared to return to independent living and that they have the proper tools and knowledge needed to be successful.
Family grieves over addicted loved ones. The stigma and grief associated with such matters can take a heavy toll on family members. Family members have to deal with many matters on numerous financial, emotional and mental stages. Like any loss, a family member may go through the stages of grief associated with it. The numerous secondary losses of losing a family member to addiction are also present.
The article, “Stages Of Grief When A Loved One Is Addicted” by Brittany Meadows states,
“Most people never think that they will one day witness addiction firsthand. Many people dealing with addiction in their family don’t fully understand the disease of addiction and how it not only impacts the person suffering with substance abuse, but everyone else in their life.”
Many men suffer from alcoholism and mental illness but find no help. This is partly due to attitudes towards men and how mental illness is approached. Men need as much help as women when it comes to mental issues and require the same help. Men just need to ask for it.
The article, “Why Many Men Have a Harder Time Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness” from Healthline states,
“I think part of it may be this macho thing,” Dr. Raymond Hobbs, a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told Healthline. “A lot of guys don’t want to admit they have this problem. They still see depression as a sign of weakness.”
Employers are faced with issues of employees. The issues can come to work but many of them can be dealt with efficiently. Stress, anxiety and grief can all be met with a kind hand, but also the issue of substance abuse. As long as substance abuse is not affecting the workplace, how can an employer help an employee suffering from this and maintain productivity?
The article, “Taking On Substance Use Disorder As An Employer — Getting It Right” by Gary Gottlieb states,
“Nearly one in ten full-time workers in the U.S. has a substance abuse problem, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 7.9 million individuals in the U.S. are dealing with a dual diagnosis: experiencing substance use disorder along with another mental health condition like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Substance use can involve alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs.”
Short article on the variance of the effective nature of substance abuse counseling and treatment. It can vary due to the subjective nature of individuals. It is important for substance abuse consultants to identify areas that can prove negative for some and positive for others.
The article, “Outcomes of substance abuse treatment vary” by Mike Rosmann states,
“Outcomes of treatments for substance abuse are difficult to predict and also are difficult for the people affected by the substance abuser to deal with. This is the 10th report about Dan and Darla, a farm couple and their two children, a daughter who is 13 and a son who is 9 years old. As usual, I have not used their real names or revealed identifying information”
Written by Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio.
With the unprecedented rise of opium addiction, you are probably seeing more patients with serious addiction issues who need medical help. Some are living basically functional lives, but their drug use is threatening to get out of control. Other users are hooked on heroin and have become unable to care for themselves, possibly facing overdose or death if they cannot stop using this destructive drug. The following strategies may be able to help heroin-addicted patients.
People who are addicted to a strong substance like heroin often benefit from cognitive therapy, or professional counseling. This approach assists patients in addressing core issues that may be causes or triggers for the addiction, such as a troubled childhood, mental health problems, or contributory circumstances like finances or dysfunctional relationships. Dealing with root causes can often help an addict to bring heroin use under control.
Detox Heroin Treatment
Heroin is both physically and mentally addictive. Used consistently, it disrupts normal life and puts someone on the path to destruction. Many addiction specialists recommend detox heroin treatment to completely clear the drug from both the body and the mind, and enable the person to regain normal function of both. There are both in-house and outpatient options, depending on the level of addiction the patient is struggling with, as well as lifestyle responsibilities like a job and family. Completing a detox heroin treatment program is often the first step toward a successful recovery.
Community Support Group
Heroin addiction recovery can also be reinforced by joining a community support group. The group is typically led by a professional therapist or a successfully recovered person with some level of education or training. Group members help each other by providing accountability, sharing encouragement, and reinforcing a recovery lifestyle. Support groups meet at different times, sometimes daily or weekly. Consistent attendance has been shown to be an effective tool in achieving and maintaining recovery. You can have information for support groups in your office, facilitate the meeting places for such places, or run them, if you have the required training.
Some addicts are dealing with a number of physical or mental ailments, which may be contributing to the heroin addiction. If you are a general practitioner, you may need to refer your patient to a specialist who can treat the auxiliary problems that are debilitating the patient, along with facilitating heroin addiction recovery. Keeping pamphlets around the office and having the information on hand for patients who talk to you about their addiction is a good place to start.
Although heroin addiction is highly destructive, it can be effectively treated. Give your patients the tools they need to be able to treat their addiction at the root level in order for recovery to be successful. Teaming up with other doctors, therapists, and health care providers in your area can enable you to help patients who suffer from addiction, even if such treatment is outside of your expertise. Just by giving patients the information they need, by incorporating some of the above methods, or even just facilitating them, you can help save the lives of those under your care.