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The Many Faces of Addiction

Addiction is a huge problem in the United States. It spans demographics and cultural boundaries, indiscriminately afflicting people of all backgrounds and upbringings. There is much disagreement among researchers and medical professionals surrounding the cause and even the definition of addiction; is it a disease, a disorder, or something else entirely?

At its core, the term “addiction” refers to a compulsive act which causes harm to the afflicted person and those around them, and one over which the addicted individual no longer exercises control. This is why addiction, particularly to destructive substances like drugs or alcohol, can wreak such terrible havoc on the lives of the addicted individual as well as their families, friends, and support systems.

Here we’ll examine some of the different types of addiction, as well as explore options and information regarding substance abuse treatment and drug rehabilitation programs.

Alcoholism

“As an alcoholic, you will violate your standards quicker than you can lower them.” – Robin Williams

It’s said that the first step in overcoming any addiction is admitting that you have a problem in the first place. Herein lies the problem with alcohol addiction: It’s legal, it’s accessible, and it plays a part in social interaction across cultures worldwide. Young people are all but expected to experiment with alcohol, and targeted advertisements pervade entertainment and media in the United States. How could something so prevalent, so pervasive within global society, be so problematic for some people?

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. When alcohol is consumed, it lowers alertness, impairs perception, and stymies clear judgment, leading many to use it as an “escape” or a respite from the stressors of day to day life. The disease of alcohol addiction is both physical and psychological; addicts become dependent on alcohol, in order to feel normal, and begin to drink more and more outside the bounds of social convention. This can lead to further dependence, which, in turn, can create problems with work, family life, and the law.

Warning signs of alcoholism are many and varied but can be difficult to see in loved ones or oneself before they reach problematic levels. A heightened preoccupation with drinking, “sneaking” drinks in secret outside of social interactions, drinking alone, and rapidly gulping the first couple of drinks to speed the process of intoxication are all behaviors that should be considered red flags.

Alcohol addiction treatment isn’t just for people who have hit “rock bottom” and have no other options; if you or someone you know are exhibiting symptoms of alcoholism,  it’s important to arm yourself with the tools to avoid that eventuality.

Opioids and Heroin

The United States is currently in the grips of what can only be described as an opioid overdose epidemic. Of more than 52,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2015, 20,101 were related to prescription opioid painkillers, and almost 13,000 were related to heroin.1 These shocking figures are on the rise and have left police, lawmakers, and medical professionals scrambling to understand and address the issue.

Many opioid addictions start with medically legitimate prescriptions for pain. Opioids interact with receptors on nerve cells throughout the brain and nervous system, creating pleasurable sensations and relieving pain, but the problem lies in their unparalleled ability to create tolerance.

A person suffering from pain and medicating with prescription opioid painkillers will quickly begin to feel diminishing returns in pain relief and will take more pills in order to achieve the same effect. Some painkiller-addicted individuals don’t even realize that they are physically dependent on a substance until their prescription runs out and they attempt cessation.

Prescription opioids can be difficult and costly to acquire through illicit channels, so many desperate individuals turn to the next best thing: heroin. Comparatively powerful and inexpensive, heroin can provide opioid addicts with the fix that they need to satiate their addiction and feel “normal” again, but, as heroin is entirely unregulated, it is very easy for addicted people to accidentally overdose on the drug. It is estimated that among those who use heroin for the first time without an existing opioid dependence, 23% will develop an addiction.2

Heroin addiction treatment and recovery are best carried out under supervision from medical professionals who can help mitigate the pain and suffering of withdrawal. Detoxification programs such as the one at BlueCrest Recovery Center give addicted individuals the leg up they need for success and continued sobriety in outpatient rehab programs.

Cocaine and Crack

From its emergence as a cure-all medicine in the late 19th century to its eventual association with artists, intellectuals, and the jet-set elite, cocaine has lived many lives and worn many disguises throughout its tenure as an addictive and illicit drug in the United States.

One of the most problematic aspects of cocaine use is that it often goes hand in hand with alcohol consumption; casual users on the “club” scene will snort cocaine in order to stay up later and have more energy throughout a night of drinking. Unfortunately, the pairing of cocaine and alcohol creates a toxic substance in the body called cocaethylene, which increases heart rate and blood pressure to potentially lethal levels.

The emergence of crack cocaine in the 1970s and its proliferation throughout the 1980s and 90s created a new beast in the form of a cheaper, more accessible form of cocaine which ushered in staggering numbers of new addicts. Crack- and cocaine-addicted individuals often suffer from cold sweats, twitching, seizures, and psychosis while feeling the effects of the drug, as well as numerous bronchial issues like nosebleeds, sinus disease, shortness of breath, and chest and facial pain.

Like other “party” drugs, signs of cocaine use becoming problematic include preoccupation with acquiring more of the drug, as well as secretive usage and a constant need for greater amounts in order to reach the desired mental state. If you recognize these signs in yourself or someone close to you, the time to reach out to addiction treatment centers for information and assistance is now before it’s too late.

Methamphetamine

Like many chemical drugs, meth started out as a seemingly legitimate medical treatment, in this case, an inhalant for patients presenting with breathing issues in the 1930s. Unfortunately, as is the case with almost any substance that creates sensations of euphoria, meth addiction quickly began to rear its ugly head.

Meth usage triggers the release of the chemical dopamine within the human brain, which floods the user with a sense of well-being and contentment. Unfortunately, dopamine exists in finite qualities, and will become depleted after subsequent usage; this leads to an increased desire among meth users to take more and more of the drug in an effort to chase the feeling associated with the first high.

Despite the stereotypical depictions of meth-addicted individuals in the media, any type of person can become addicted to meth. While the stimulating qualities of crystal meth make it a common fixture among party-going people, it’s also quite prevalent among graveyard shift workers, long-haul commercial drivers, and parents who feel as though their energy levels are not equal to the task of managing their time. It’s also commonly abused for weight loss purposes, as it tends to quell appetite as it ravages the body’s chemistry.

Meth can be a particularly difficult drug to recover from without familial and medical support, as meth-addicted individuals tend to move in social circles permeated by the manufacture, use, and sale of the drug. If you notice a loved one retreating further and further from their typical support systems and spending an inordinate amount of time around people who use meth, there’s a good chance that they need help.

BlueCrest Recovery Centers Can Help

If you or someone you love are currently struggling with an addiction, it’s important to realize that you aren’t alone. Information, support, and recovery are within your reach through drug rehab centers, where medical professionals are trained and prepared to help you through the process of detoxification and rehabilitation.

The seasoned clinicians at BlueCrest Recovery Centers apply a three-pronged approach to address and mend the damage done by drugs and alcohol to the mind, body, and spirit. There’s no reason to continue suffering; take the first step toward a life lived to the fullest and contact BlueCrest today at 973-298-5776.

Sources

  1. https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf
  2. https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf