Changing Our Attitudes About Substance Misuse and Addiction
When people hear of others having a substance abuse problem, they may think that they could just quit if they really wanted to. What many people don’t understand is that substance use disorders, or addictions, have a neurobiological basis. When people begin to understand this, then the attitudes surrounding substance misuse and addiction can change and those affected can get the proper treatment they need to recover.
How Does the Brain Affect Addiction?
While some people may classify addiction as a character flaw, there is actual scientific evidence to disprove that thought. Although the choice to first try a drug may be voluntary, once a person repeats it, it becomes much more and can result in an addiction.
Drugs target the pleasure points in the brain. When someone uses a drug, the brain’s reward system receives large deposits of dopamine. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines dopamine as “a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotions, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.”
Natural behaviors get rewarded when there is a normal level of activation. But, when you add drugs into the mix, over-stimulation occurs. When this happens, the brain is trained to keep repeating the same action, craving more to get the same feeling, which is why addiction develops.
There are also scientific studies to prove that addiction to drugs and alcohol is a chronic brain disease. Once everyone gets on the same page and accepts this, then the proper treatment can begin.
Effects of Substance Abuse on the Brain
Since substance abuse is a chronic brain disease, it impacts many functions of the brain including:
These effects are often why those who abuse drugs make bad decisions that lead to other risky behaviors. Many times they often don’t remember what happened when they were high or even making the bad choices they did.
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Treating Substance Misuse and Addiction
Treating substance misuse and addiction starts with prevention. It’s estimated that one in seven people will have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
For those already addicted, this step is too late. But for those who are at high risk of using drugs, prevention is key. It’s important to encourage family bonds and support people’s emotional health. Some people who begin to use drugs do so because they feel depressed and disconnected from family and friends. Working to strengthen bonds can give people the support system they need instead of turning to drugs and alcohol.
Community and school-based prevention and education programs are also important to keep young people away from drugs. Showing them the effects and that there are alternatives can help to reduce the amount of drug use.
For those who are already addicted, finding reputable and reliable treatment is key. Many addicts think they can do it on their own, when in fact that is not the case. Once those who are addicted to drugs understand that their addiction is a chronic brain disease, they can begin to get the treatment they need. Any family and friends must also understand this so that they can support the recovery process.
Treatment for Substance Misuse and Addiction at SpringBoard Recovery
Making the decision to get help is the first, and often the hardest part of seeking treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. But, once a call is made to Spring Board Recovery, our expert team will begin by assessing your addiction. This will include reviewing your history of drug abuse so that a customized treatment plan can be made.
Once the treatment plan is established, any detox programs will occur first. This is often best done under the supervision of doctors and nurses who can help with any physical side effects that can accompany detox. The duration of detox differs from patient to patient since each person’s level and type of drug use is not the same.
When detox is complete, the team at Spring Board Recovery will introduce therapy sessions so that you can begin to discuss your addiction. This includes getting down to the root of what caused the addiction. There has to be a reason why you chose to start using drugs. Once again, understanding that addiction is not a character flaw is crucial to treating substance misuse. Through individual and group therapy sessions, those struggling with addiction can begin to understand what influences led them to their addiction. Once they understand what they are, they can begin to work to avoid them.
While some patients thrive in a one-on-one setting, others do better in the presence of others who are fighting the same battle. They can share their stories more easily and get support from others who are going through the same thing. Through therapy programs, addicts learn how to live better lives without drugs and alcohol. They often find new interests and new groups of friends as they begin to live their sober lives.
They also learn life skills to help keep them sober. Some even go on to become treatment advisers to help others who are experiencing the same thing they once did.
Changing Our Attitudes = Ending the Stigma of Addiction
By knowing more about addiction and how it impacts a person's mind, body and spirit, we can begin to change our attitudes surrounding addiction and recovery and support those affected by it. Sometimes this comes in the form of open and honest communication, or sharing your own addiction recovery story. Or if you haven't been personally impacted by addiction, it can mean listening with an open mind when you find out about someone struggling with addiction. These are the ways that we can help to end the stigma of addiction.
If you’re ready to take the first step in treating your substance misuse and addiction, contact SpringBoard Recovery today. Let our team help you by first assessing your addiction so that we can find the best way to help you. Take the first step and let Spring Board Recovery show you how to begin your journey to sobriety.