Drug addiction is a medical disorder. It negatively impacts and changes the way both the brain and the body functions. It is characterized by relapse and compulsive behavior, and it can exacerbate the symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders, behavioral disorders, medical ailments, and other issues in the patient’s life. It can also cause these issues as well.
Without treatment, drug addiction does not go away. It requires intensive initial treatment that can last from 30 days to a year, depending upon the patient’s recovery rate. For optimum success, long-term follow-up care of a year or more is necessary in most cases to ensure ongoing sobriety.
At Constellation Behavioral Health, our programs provide patients with uniquely designed treatment tailored to meet their personal needs, symptoms, and recovery objectives. Patients overcome physical and psychological drug dependence to start a new life defined by wellness, hope, and balance.
How Drug Addiction Works
Drugs are chemicals and they interrupt the chemicals in the brain that occur naturally, which disrupts the communication between the brain and body. Upon use of an illicit substance, the pleasure pathway in the brain is overloaded with an abnormal rush of dopamine, and the drug can imitate the action of naturally occurring chemicals, sending false messages. The brain is unable to reuptake the dopamine as it normally would and patients experience a “crash” as the drug wears off. Over time, they are unable to experience that same feeling naturally and repeated use of the drug is unable to produce that same effect as well. Patients end up chasing a high that is impossible to achieve, experiencing overwhelming cravings and an increased tolerance of the drug that translates into needing more and more of it to feel a minimal effect.
Drug Addiction Is a Treatable Disease
Though the first use of most illicit substances is voluntary, over time, chronic drug use can change the brain and how it functions so that the using behavior is compulsive. Patients can recover from the disorder, but medical and psychotherapeutic intervention and care are indicated. Numerous studies report the efficacy of the following in the treatment of dependence upon any drug, including alcohol:
- Medical detox, including medication if necessary
- Personal therapy
- Group therapy and support groups
- Holistic treatment options (e.g., acupuncture, meditation, etc.)
- Alternative treatment options (e.g., sports and outdoor therapies, equine-assisted therapy, etc.)
- Aftercare services (e.g., sober living, alumni services, etc.)
The Risks of Avoiding Drug Addiction Treatment
Patients who are living with a drug addiction disorder take their lives into their own hands every day they actively abuse their drug of choice. The physical risks include:
- Acute infection
- Contraction of infectious diseases
- Chronic disorders
- Accident under the influence
Social risks and threat to quality of life and mental health are also problematic for addicts. These often begin before physical issues set in and worsen over time. They include:
- Financial problems, job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc.
- Relationships issues, divorce, loss of child custody, etc.
- Increased mental health issues, especially an exacerbation of underlying disorders, increased depression or anxiety, paranoia, etc.
- Legal problems (e.g., driving under the influence, drunk in public, possession of illicit substances, possession with intent to sell, etc.)
Because the risks of continued drug use and abuse are life-altering in so many ways, seeking treatment earlier rather than later is always recommended. Contact us at Constellation Behavioral Health to learn more about our evidence-based drug addiction treatment centers.