If you feel like you are walking around in circles and trying to find your way out of a labyrinth of troubles, and that substance abuse will offer you a quick-fix solution, think again. You may be facing a plethora of personal and/or professional issues, and the urge to “feel good” or “stop feeling like a misfit or unwanted’ or succumbing to plain curiosity may trigger the need to just “give it a try.” But the impact of substance abuse on your brain, body, and, most importantly, your life, will throw you into an abyss where getting your life back on track will be a Herculean task. Read on to learn more about the devastating impact of drugs and the many options to help overcome drug addiction.
Understanding the Intricacies of Drug Addiction
You may have heard of or read about people being addicted to drugs or being tagged as drug addicts, but what makes someone addicted to drugs? When you just can’t stay away from drugs and your urge gets the better of you despite knowing that it causes harm, you may already be on the dangerous path to full-blown drug addiction. If prescription medicines or illegal drugs start to take center stage in your life – even taking precedence over food and sleep – and control every moment of your life, cut you off from family and friends, and even lead you to steal, lie and hurt people who matter to you, it may be time to seek intervention.
Drug addiction is akin to a chronic ailment, and you can experience a “trigger” at any time. Triggers can arise from troubles at home, hanging out with people who use drugs, mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety, difficulty in making new friends or adjusting to a new environment, visiting a particular place or meeting a person, seeing a picture or thing, getting a whiff of a familiar smell, or even a feeling or memory associated with certain events.
Your Body — Different Drugs, Different Effects
Drugs can have psychological as well as physical long- and short-term effects on your brain and body. It doesn’t take long for a “casual user” to become completely addicted to drugs. The effects of a particular drug and the duration before it becomes an addiction depend on several factors, including the type and purity of the drug, the substances used to manufacture the drug, the quantity taken, the physical traits of the user (such as weight, height, age, metabolism, and body fat), the duration and frequency of drug abuse, the manner of ingestion (i.e., injection, oral, or inhalation), the user’s mental health and surrounding environment, and the use of a cocktail of drugs that often includes alcohol.
This begs the question: what does it mean to misuse drugs, particularly prescription medication?
Misusing prescription medicines implies using a drug in a manner contrary to professional medical advice, such as taking more than the prescribed number of pills, crushing tablets to snort or shoot up, procuring drugs using someone else’s prescription, or simply getting high on drugs not intended for you. Gradually, increasingly larger quantities of the drug are needed to experience the same feel-good effect, and your brain and body just can’t do without it because, with time, higher tolerance levels increase a person’s dosage requirements for experiencing the same level of euphoria or whatever effect the drug promises.
The patient usually feels anxious, ill, and irritable without taking the drug. Some of the harmful effects of drug addiction include trouble with decision-making and focusing on things, remembering things, irregular heartbeat, panic attacks, paranoia, and damage to the lungs, heart, and kidneys.
Drugs impact how a person behaves, thinks, and feels, as it affects the body’s central nervous system or CNS. Depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants are the three primary categories of drugs that have damaging consequences on the CNS.
How it Affects your Brain
The chemicals present in drugs change the manner of sending, receiving, and analyzing information by the nerve cells. Drugs imitate the natural chemical messengers of the brain, over-stimulate the “reward circuit”, send abnormal messages by filling the brain with excessive chemicals, and attach themselves to the brain’s receptors.
Although drug addiction is considered to be a relapsing and chronic brain disease, some substances and drugs also alter the brain’s chemistry and enhance the risk of mood disorders and depression. Other drugs are associated with brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol have the most dangerous impact on the brain’s health. If one keeps ignoring the symptoms of alcohol or substance abuse for a prolonged period, it can result in long-term health issues and may even lead to a higher risk of death. A detox center for addressing symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse helps restore the brain’s balance and reverse or improve the damage caused by substance abuse.
Decoding the Science Behind a Comedown
The after effect or “comedown” refers to how the body reacts to drugs that a user has taken. It describes the feeling that occurs after the initial reaction. A person’s gender, tolerance level, and age determine the duration and severity of the comedown. Some common after-effects are exhaustion, headaches, depression, nausea, fatigue, sweating, dizziness, feeling shaky, not feeling hungry or sleepy, or an inability to sleep.
One can get in touch with a detox center and sign up for drug rehab programs specifically targeted at addressing and managing the effects of a comedown.
Fighting Your Drug Addiction
If you’ve come to terms with your drug addiction and have realized that you need help, you have already taken the first step in the right direction. Whether you are looking to address concerns relating to alcohol withdrawal or suboxone withdrawal symptoms, heroin rehab, or methadone clinics, choosing a drug rehab program that’s tailored to your needs treats the root of the problem. Alcohol and drug rehab centers treat addiction in its entirety by using a range of therapies. For example, if a person is suffering from alcohol withdrawal or suboxone withdrawal symptoms, drug detox is used to treat a user’s physical dependence on alcohol and drugs, while other therapies are used to address the psychological disorders that are triggered or aggravated by the addiction, as well as mental issues behind the craving for drugs. One can consider medication-based therapy (also known as replacement therapy) for opioid drugs by contacting methadone clinics for heroin rehab or addiction issues related to prescription painkillers.
If being hospitalized puts you off for practical and/or personal reasons, you can consider outpatient detox programs such as an outpatient alcohol rehab program or ambulatory outpatient care to walk down the path of a successful and safe recovery from addiction issues. These programs can be customized based on affordability and offer the flexibility to continue working as well as receive treatment. One can avail of ambulatory outpatient services at a doctor’s chamber or clinic, an emergency room, an outpatient department at a hospital, and other places. Outpatient detox programs focus on counseling sessions, educating a patient, and providing a support system involving family members and close friends. For instance, if a patient needs outpatient alcohol rehab, they can explore options such as Day Programs and Intensive Outpatient Programs, and seek the support of Continuing Care Groups to successfully finish the program.
One can define recovery from addiction as staying clean and relearning or exploring healthy ways to deal with life’s problems. As you start thinking and feeling positive, stay away or avoid people or places that might trigger a relapse, and re-establish family ties and bonds with your friends and colleagues, the journey to discovering a new and better life begins.
Dr. Cidambi is a leader in addiction treatment and innovator of safe and effective ambulatory (outpatient) detoxification level of care for alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, and suboxone. Prior to founding the Center for Network Therapy, she completed her residency in Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at NYU/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Due to the successful detoxification program, Dr. Cidambi was featured frequently by media outlets, including NPR, CBS, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.