Addiction – The facts
So, what exactly is addiction? Various websites and dictionaries will all give you close to the same answer, just written differently. Wikipedia for example, says ‘Addiction is a brain disorder characterised by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.’ What even does that all mean? This is why we are going to break it all down and make sense of it now.
In layman’s terms, the above sentence says, in a nutshell, a brain disorder which makes one do things that make them happy even though it will have a bad outcome. Addiction never ends well, no matter what you are addicted to. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, gambling, computer games, work …. all the aforementioned are just as bad as each other in their own ways when it comes down to being an addict.
Why does it start?
There is a complete myriad of reasons as to why an addiction begins. Some studies say that addiction is genetic. Others cite environmental factors as being the cause, such as being the child of an addict, for example. Many become addicted due to using drugs or alcohol as a way to escape the problems they have in life. Unemployment and poverty are also triggers. A lot of people start drinking or smoking something as teenagers with their friends.
Irrespective of the reason, some people will try something once, not like it and never do it again. Those are the lucky ones. Majority of people will go on to form a habit, which still at this stage is only a regular occurrence. This then turns into an addiction, which once it takes hold can be incredibly hard to stop. A lot of people don’t even realise they have become addicted until it feels too late to stop.
What are the signs?
It’s important to be aware that while there are a lot of similarities, different drugs will have separate side effects to others, so one person with an addiction may not necessarily manifest with the same signs or symptoms of addiction as someone else. For the most part though, there will be both physiological and psychological changes in a person, whether you are self-examining or worried about a friend. On top of that, there will also be noticeable social and behavioural signs also. The most common ones are listed below:
- Weight Loss
- Financial problems
- Criminal activity
- Risky behavior
- Pushing away loved ones
When one tries to stop taking a substance, their body is going to react in various ways, both physically and psychologically. NONE of these are any fun at all, in fact, each and every side effect will be detrimental to your body. In the worst case scenario, some of these symptoms can be even life threatening.
Like anything else, the side effects of withdrawal will be different from person to person, both in their severity as well as the actual symptoms themselves. The substance type and time length of your usage will also make a difference to the symptoms you are experiencing, along with the type of withdrawal treatment you choose and the state your body is in physically and emotionally at the time you commence treatment.
Physical dependence on a substance occurs when your body becomes used to having said substance in its system after a period of long term usage. When you stop putting the drug into your body, your system thinks to itself, ‘hang on, something isn’t right’ and begins to respond to this in various ways. Some of the more common withdrawal effects can include things like vomiting, tremors, fatigue, muscle pain and night sweats.
Psychological dependence can actually be worse than the physical effects. This also begins after a period of usage, and occurs when your mind starts believing that you actually need said substance to actually function. It can be an incredibly scary time mentally during the time of withdrawal as the mind is extremely powerful, especially when left to its own thoughts. Side effects can include depression, anxiety, paranoia, crying and racing thoughts.
I’m ready to quit, now what?
As horrendous as all of the above withdrawal signs and symptoms sound, there IS light at the end of the tunnel! You CAN be helped, you CAN beat your addiction and the pain that withdrawal brings WON’T last forever! Most last only for a few days or a few weeks, again, this is dependent on the type of drug, length of usage, withdrawal method and state of your body at the time.
One of the most important things to remember is that you cannot force someone to quit. A person must be ready within themselves to give up that part of their life and kick their addiction for good. Some people choose to quit because of their health, others due to pregnancy, some people even because of the effects their problem is having on their loved ones. Whatever your reason might be, always make sure you are in a safe and secure environment and have a good, solid support network around you as it is incredibly difficult to go through something like this on your own. Majority of people are likely to relapse after their first attempt at quitting, so don’t ever become disheartened if this happens to you!
The road to sobriety isn’t easy and seeking the help of a professional is always advisable, such as the team at Salt Recovery. Here, you will be cared for by people who have the experience and knowledge needed to help you successfully beat your addiction for good. All treatments and programs are specifically tailored to every individual and their own personal needs. Take the first step and make that initial contact with Salt Recovery, you have everything to gain and NOTHING to lose.
In the immortal words of Thomas H. Palmer, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.