Drug addictions can be devastating to families, and studies show that approximately two-thirds of all American families are in some way affected by either an alcohol or drug addiction. If someone in your family is struggling with an addiction that he or she cannot seem to break, it is important for you to understand why this is happening. Drug addictions are extremely hard to overcome, especially when the person tries to do it alone. Here are three things you should understand about addictions.
Drugs Alter The Brain
The first thing you should understand is that when a person uses any type of substance, it can alter his or her brain. Because of this, it can be hard for an addict to understand the effects of his or her addiction. This also explains why addicts do things that seem irrational and illogical.
The word "addiction" comes from a Latin word that means enslaved. The drug a person uses begins to take over the person's brain, and the person soon becomes enslaved to the drug. As this happens, the person's brain begins to change. When the person uses a drug, the brain releases dopamine, which provides a pleasurable experience to the person. As the drug wears off, the pleasure goes away.
Drugs also alter the chemical transmissions within the brain. Over time, drugs can cause permanent damage to a person's brain. This can include memory loss and can lead to long-term problems with normal brain functions and reasoning.
The Body Experiences Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person's brain gets used to the drug he or she uses, it will constantly remind the person that he or she needs this drug, and this can happen with any type of addiction. As the brain reminds the person of this, the person begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. Not only do addicts long for the euphoria feelings they get when they are using drugs, but they also take them to stop the withdrawal symptoms they are going through. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe, and they can include:
- Nervousness, anxiety, and depression
- Headaches and pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and shaking
An addict's brain has a hard time functioning without the drug, which is why addicts experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug of their choice.
Addicts Need Life Changes
Finally, you should understand that breaking an addiction requires complete changes in a person's life. A person that tries to break an addiction alone without changing anything in his or her life will have a difficult time achieving this. If you really want to see this loved one break his or her addiction and are willing to step in and help, here are several things you may want to push for:
- Substance abuse treatment – The first thing this person will need is a good treatment center. Substance abuse treatment centers can help people go through the detoxification process and can offer additional types of help. This is the first step needed to break an addiction for good.
- Chemical dependency counseling – Counseling services are also vital for anyone trying to break an addiction. Counseling can help the person understand why he or she became addicted and can find ways to help the person stay sober.
- New environment – The third thing an addict will need is a new environment. The person will no longer be able to hang out with the friends he or she once had or go to the places he or she once went to. A new environment is vital for staying sober.
Addictions are hard to break, no matter what type they are, but there is hope. If you have a loved one who is struggling with an addiction, you may want to call a center that offers treatment and counseling services to learn more. You can also visit sites like http://www.olalla.org for more information.