What was once widely referred to as addiction, but is now commonly known as Substance Abuse Disorder, is a dependence on a legal or illegal substance that has a detrimental impact on a person’s life. The signs and symptoms of addiction vary with the type of drug, but a common factor with drug abuse is a lack of control; drug abusers can recognize the harm that a particular substance is causing them, but are powerless to stop using it. Addiction problems can undermine a person’s health, work, and family life. Estimates from the NIH and CDC note that as many as 15% of Americans have a Substance Abuse Disorder. Many of these people suffer from other mental health disorders as well.
The Vicious Cycle: The Deeper the Substance Abuse, the Less Likely People Are to Ask for Help
The shame that is connected to substance abuse can prevent people from seeking the help they need. This is one of the central problems with addiction: the more people succumb to the deleterious effects of a substance, the more difficult it becomes for them to reach out to health care providers and loved ones. Not only does losing a job or family member have an impact on an individual with a substance Abuse Disorder, it has a broader impacted on society. Many people don’t realize that there is a significant economic cost incurred by the public from alcohol and drug dependence disorders.
The Impulse to Quit Can Creep in Slowly Over Time or Hit All At Once
Sadly, some people with addiction need to experience catastrophic life events to seek change. But often the impulse to quit creeps in over time. Hating the fact that you are addicted can be the first step towards seeking the help that you need. Other indications that a person is ready to find help include an awareness of the damage done to others from their addiction, along with an awareness that people close to you have become repulsed by your habit.
Since the range of the form of substance abuse varies and the types of substances that are involved are so numerous, one important thing that mental health practitioners emphasize is to avoid stigmatizing people. An essential part of the process for asking for help is to gain enough self-awareness to realize that there is nothing fundamentally “wrong,” but that there is a dependency standing in the way of getting the most out of life.
Indeed, in one of my prior posts from December 19, 2016, I included a Huffington Post chart that delineates an entire vocabulary shift away from the pejorative connotations associated with the word “addiction,” to a more accurate form of expression focused on use and treatment.
Seek Professional Care When Necessary
All people, even those suffering from Substance Abuse Disorders, seek a self-directed life and to improve their health. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it is vital to reach out to a qualified health care provider who can help you get on the road to recovery.
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com. To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff