Drug addiction is a serious mental illness that can affect everyone differently. Men react to addiction differently than women. Adults deal with addiction differently than teens. The length of time one has been engaging in drug abuse, the level of addiction and even the specific drugs consumed can all impact how effective treatment can be. Researchers, however, agree on the fact that drug addiction is a chronic disease.
Reasons Behind Drug Abuse
There are many reasons why individuals choose to abuse drugs, but they can be narrowed down to three types of behavior. The first reason someone may experiment with drugs the first time is the element of peer pressure. Their friends may be abusing drugs. Their parents may be abusing drugs. The desire for human beings to be part of a group or family has been evidenced for many years. We have certain needs, such as food, clothing and shelter that are more important that the social aspect of our lives, however, we often place our need for companionship and a sense of belonging higher than our own self-worth or self-esteem. Peer pressure, therefore, can be an incredibly powerful influence.
The second reason that individuals may choose to abuse drugs is the desire to feel good. Many drugs of abuse, including prescription drugs when used in higher than recommended or directed doses, bring a sense of euphoria to the abuser. That “high” feeling is the ultimate goal of the drug abuse in this type of scenario.
A final category of drug abuse is similar to feeling good, but it harkens back to the drug abuser’s original state. Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression disorders, schizophrenia disorders, or other mental illnesses or emotional problems will sometimes abuse drugs to feel better than they normally feel. They aren’t necessarily interested in the consequential “high” or euphoria, but they do want to suffer less from panic or mood swings. Sometimes, these conditions have already been diagnosed by a doctor. They may receive a legally prescribed medication that they take too frequently or in doses that exceed the directions. Other times, the condition has not been diagnosed and the individual has begun experimenting with substances for one or both of the other reasons people abuse drugs. By coincidence, they discover that they feel better when they use drugs than they do when they are not abusing drugs, and this feeling compels them to continue abusing drugs.
Original Reasons for Drug Abuse Can Lead to Habitual Relapse
Each of these circumstances can cause problems for the individual who has repeatedly sought drug addiction treatment only to relapse into drug abuse. For instance, if they return to the same group of friends, who also engage in drug abuse, they may still feel that need to belong to the group. If they still wish to seek out the euphoric feelings and haven’t found another, healthier way to achieve those feelings, they may engage in drug use again. Finally, if they have not effectively treated any co-occurring mental illness, they may still seek out drugs of abuse in order to self-medicate the issues.
Temptations to Abuse Drugs Can Be Addressed With Proper Treatment
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that individuals who suffer from mental illness are as much as twice as likely to suffer from drug addiction should they engage in drug abuse. It is important to remember that suffering from mental illness does not automatically indicate that someone will become a drug addict. If the individual never engages in drug abuse, for instance, they will not face the possibility of addiction. However, when someone who suffers from a mental illness develops addiction, it is imperative that they receive treatment for both mental illnesses in order for drug addiction treatment to be effective. In some cases, when an individual suffers from chronic relapse after treatment, it is possible that they have not been properly diagnosed or treated for their co-occurring disorder. Choosing a drug treatment facility that has the experience, compassion and training to address the needs of a dual diagnosis condition can help.
Estimates of relapse among those who have received drug addiction treatment can be high. Addiction treatment for habitual relapsers, in particular, addresses the needs of those individuals who slide back more frequently. The use of cognitive behavioral therapies has been helpful for these individuals to change the way they perceive their lives in order to combat frequent relapse.
- Conflicts with family members
- Conflicts with employers
- Marital issues or problems
- Social events where drugs and alcohol are present
The concept of habitual relapse prevention is to train an individual to see occasional lapses as something different than a full-blown relapse. When an alcoholic, for instance, consumes one glass of wine, they may believe they have “fallen off the wagon,” and any further attempt to curb their drinking is moot. By unlearning this misconception and retraining the brain to understand that taking one drink does not necessitate taking another, the individual can then seek an adjustment to their treatment plan without spending wasted time engaging in alcohol abuse.
Finding Addiction Treatment for Habitual Relapsers
There are several questions that one should ask prior to making a final decision about where to complete a residential treatment program.
- The facility should have the skill and commitment needed to create a personalized treatment plan that includes attention to the individual’s chronic relapse condition.
- The treatment plan should be flexible enough to change as the needs of the recovering addict change during the course of treatment and beyond.
- The treatment program should be available when the individual is ready, willing and able to participate without hesitation.
- The treatment plan should include individual or group therapy, or both, as required by the individual.
- Treatment should be of an adequate length of time to meet the needs of the individual based on his or her individual circumstances.
- The treatment facility should understand that treatment is a long-term endeavor and may required extended or multiple treatments and should encourage residents and past residents to participate in self-help recovery groups and continued care after the initial treatment period has come to an end.
Never Give Up
If you have, or someone you love has, gone through drug addiction treatment and relapsed, do not give up hope. At Axis, we understand that addiction is a chronic condition. With a wide range of treatment options, including alternative and complementary therapies that can help combat the stress that often leads to relapse, we can provide you and your family with the tools you need to succeed, and we’ll be with you each and every step of the way.