Addiction Is Not a Choice
More than 32 million adults in the United States struggle with problematic substance use.
Addiction Is a Chronic Disease
Many people don’t understand how individuals suffering from substance use disorders become addicted to drugs and alcohol and mistakenly judge them for lacking ethics, moral principles, and willpower. Most people have the misconception that people battling addiction can simply stop using if they choose to.
The term addiction is tossed around casually in conversation. It is used lightly, sometimes referring to people as “shopaholics” or “fitness junkies,” but addiction is a severe and chronic disease.
A substance use disorder develops over time, and an individual’s inability to control their use progresses. The loss of self-control is addiction’s trademark. It is a complex illness with no cure, but with the proper care, a person can manage the symptoms of this disease and thrive— living a happy, healthy, and productive life.
Signs of Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Warning signs of addiction should be taken seriously. Reported signs and symptoms of addiction include:
- The person begins to behave differently for no apparent reason, such as acting withdrawn, hostile, or frequently feeling tired or depressed
- An unexplained disinterest in activities or hobbies that they previously enjoyed
- Loss of money, asking to borrow money, missing valuables
- Changes in daily routines
- Loss of interest in health, hygiene, and dental care
- Changes in weight and appearance
- Change in sexual behavior
- Changes in weight, appetite, and sleeping habits
- A decline in work or school performance
- A change in their peers
- Acting secretive around their phone or engaging in suspicious behavior
- Secretive, defensive behavior
- A tendency to disappear for hours at a time
- Unable to focus on conversations
- Conflicts in relationships
- Irritability, depression, or mood swings
- Aggressive behavior
- Appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid without reason
How to Support Your Loved One Battling Addiction
It’s not easy to know what to say or do when a friend or family member suffers from addiction, but it’s critical not to overlook substance abuse— you may be saving their life.
During a person’s recovery process, support from a loved one can be extraordinarily significant and foster their rehabilitation. You can show your support in various ways, including:
- Know the signs of relapse and remove substances that may trigger one
- Help your loved one remember to take prescribed medications
- Offer to attend treatment appointments with your loved one
- Stay engaged with their treatment and be a resource
- Go “meeting shopping” to help find the right one for them
- Help create a sober network of friends
- Be loving, patient, and nonjudgmental
Guidelines to Help a Friend or Family Member
- Educate yourself and learn about alcohol and drug misuse and substance use disorders.
- Talk to your loved one and offer your support. Express your concerns and make sure they know your help and support are being offered. Communicate your willingness to go with them to get help because, like other chronic diseases, the earlier the condition gets treated, the better the outcome.
- Convey love and concern. Don’t wait for your loved one’s addiction to worsen. Although you might be faced with excuses, anger, and denial, be prepared to respond with specific examples of their behavior that is cause for worry.
- Don’t expect that the person battling addiction will stop without help. Promises to slow down use don’t work. Treatment, new coping skills, and support are necessary to overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol.
- Support their recovery and understand it’s an ongoing process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Stay involved when your friend or family member is in treatment and going to meetings. Stay supportive of their journey and continue to show that you care about their success in life-long recovery.
Things to Avoid
- Don’t lecture, preach, demoralize, threaten, or bribe the person.
- Don’t be the victim. Stay away from expressing emotions that only increase feelings of shame and guilt, furthering the compulsive urges to use drugs and drink.
- Don’t lie, make excuses, or cover up for their behaviors.
- Don’t take on their responsibilities. This only allows for the person to escape the consequences of their addiction.
- Don’t argue with the person when they are using or under the influence of a substance. The person suffering from addiction can’t have a logical or rational conversation in this state.
- Don’t feel responsible or guilty for their behavior. Addiction is a disease; it’s not your fault.
- Don’t try to join them. Don’t attempt to keep up with them by drinking, using a drug, or misusing a medication.
The 13 Principles of Effective Addiction Treatment
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed thirteen addiction treatment principles based on three decades of scientific research. The NIDA is a center within the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIDA researchers continuously advance the science of preventing and treating substance use disorders through medical research and education.
These principles are effective in helping addicted individuals stop using drugs and alcohol, prevent relapse, and successfully recover. The 13 principles of effective addiction treatment are as follows:
- Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behaviors.
- No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.
- Treatment needs to be readily available.
- Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just their drug abuse.
- Remaining in treatment for a sufficient period of time is critical.
- Counseling— individual and group – and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.
- Medications are an important treatment element for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
- An individual’s treatment plan must be addressed continually and modified as necessary to ensure it meets the patient’s changing needs.
- Many individuals with drug and alcohol addictions also have other mental disorders.
- Medically assisted detoxification, or medical detox, is only the first stage of addiction treatment and does little to change long-term drug abuse by itself.
- Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.
- Drug use during rehabilitation must be monitored constantly, as lapses occur during treatment.
- Treatment programs should assess patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases and provide targeted risk-reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.
Addiction Rehabilitation at White Oak Recovery Center
White Oak Recovery Center meticulously interviews and assesses each resident using the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria’s multidimensional assessment— considering a patient’s needs, obstacles, liabilities, strengths, assets, resources, and support structure to determine the appropriate approach and most effective treatment plan.
We have a team of professional and compassionate staff that collaboratively works with residents to create the most successful care plan for their evolving needs during treatment and after by equipping them with specific, individualized relapse prevention plans and aftercare support.
White Oak Recovery Center’s evidence-based approach to addiction treatment includes dual diagnosis and medication-assisted treatment to address and manage co-existing mental health conditions.
WORC provides on-site medically supervised detox with 24-hour medical care, a structured schedule of comprehensive behavioral therapies, and individual, family, and group therapy sessions with licensed therapists and counselors.
Learn more about choosing treatment with White Oak Recovery Center.