Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Drug and alcohol addictions affect people from all walks of life. If an individual has access to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs and uses on a regular basis, the risk for addiction is there. With each passing year, rates of and drug and alcohol addiction continue to rise among teenagers, young adults and older adults alike.

Since different types of substances produce different effects, addiction potential can vary from drug to drug; however, regular, long-term substance abuse in any form will lead to the same end: addiction. Knowing the different types of substances and what signs to watch for can go a long way towards helping you or someone you know avoid addiction’s trap.

Call our toll-free helpline at 800-654-0987 for information on drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol has remained a long-standing recreational substance for centuries on end. Likewise, certain drugs of abuse, such as hallucinogens and stimulants also have a long history as recreational substances.

What makes drugs and alcohol addictive stems from their ability to alter the brain’s normal chemical processes, according to Stanford Medicine. In effect, addictive drugs and alcohol can integrate within the brain’s chemical system. With ongoing use, these substances become an essential part of the brain’s day-to-day workings.

As a general rule, the longer a person engages in substance abuse practices the more ingrained the addiction becomes.

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Statistics on Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Over the course of the last 10 to 15 years, drug and alcohol addiction rates have skyrocketed. Not surprisingly, increasing rates of substance abuse have laid the groundwork for addiction rates to soar.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, the year 2013 saw an estimated 24.6 million Americans, 12 years old and up, engaging in illicit drug use. For adults 50 years and older, rates of substance abuse doubled between the years 2002 and 2012.

Perhaps the most alarming statistic of all concerns increasing rates of prescription drug abuse over the last 15 years. Prescription opioid abuse in particular doubled the rate of emergency room visits and accounted for an estimated 12,660 overdose fatalities in 2012.

As far as alcohol abuse trends go, statistics for 2013 show 52.2 percent of Americans 12 years old and older reported being current drinkers. Binge drinking trends showed as many as 22.9 percent of Americans engaging in excess alcohol abuse on a regular basis.

For information on drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs, call our helpline at 800-654-0987.

Common Drugs of Abuse

Drug & Alcohol Addiction

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Whether you’re drinking beer, wine or hard liquor, the damaging effects of alcohol remain pretty much the same. With so many different varieties of drugs on the market, drug abuse effects can vary drug to drug.

Overall, four categories of addictive drugs exist:

Whereas opiates and sedatives both slow brain and central nervous system functions, stimulants rather speed up the body’s processes. Hallucinogens produce varied effects depending on the drug type and can also be highly unpredictable in effect.

Signs of Growing Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Tolerance Level Increases

Drug and alcohol addictions develop out of the ongoing changes taking place within the brain’s chemical system as far as its neurotransmitter production rates go. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs and alcohol produce psychoactive effects in terms of their ability to change normal chemical processes over time.

Tolerance level increases become one of the first signs of a growing drug or alcohol addiction. In effect, rising tolerance levels indicate the brain has adjusted its normal neurotransmitter production rates to accommodate drug and alcohol effects.

Rising tolerance levels also indicate brain cells have undergone a certain degree of damage in the process. This damage weakens chemical-producing cells making them less sensitive to a drug’s effects. Consequently, larger drug or alcohol amounts must be consumed in order to produce the same desired effects.

If you have more questions about drug and alcohol addiction or need help finding treatment, call our toll-free helpline at 800-654-0987.

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Withdrawal Episodes

If you’ve abused substances for any length of time, you’ve likely experienced withdrawal episodes along the way. Withdrawal episodes result from growing brain chemical imbalances that ultimately disrupt the brain’s ability to maintain the body’s systems as normal.

While withdrawal effects can vary between alcohol and drug use, as well as from drug-to-drug, some of the most common types of effects experienced include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances, such as problems falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early
  • Feelings of depression
  • Bouts of anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sounds and touch
  • Muscle aches
  • Muddled thinking

The longer a person keeps abusing drugs and alcohol the more severe withdrawal effects become and the more often they occur.

Mental Effects

Drug & Alcohol Addiction

An addiction will wreak havoc on your psychological well-being.

While drug and alcohol addictions most definitely compromise the body’s physical health, the roots of addiction take shape inside your thinking, emotions and behaviors. With ongoing substance abuse, chemical imbalances in the brain warp its chemical pathways to the point where the areas that regulate thinking, learning and emotions change in fundamental ways.

According to Harvard Health Publications, once addiction develops, the damaging effects of drugs and alcohol “rewires” your psychological makeup in the following ways:

  • Changes your motivations
  • Changes your life priorities
  • Redefines your sense of right and wrong
  • Makes compulsive substance abuse the focus of your daily life

Lifestyle Changes

The damaging effects of drug and alcohol addiction show up inside your daily life in terms of behavior and the choices you make. As “getting high” takes on increasing importance, other important life areas start to suffer.

Life areas commonly affected by substance addictions include:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Finances
  • Psychological well-being
  • Physical health
  • Noncriminal behavior vs. criminal behavior, such as DUIs

With long-term substance abuse, a person’s lifestyle stands to see considerable, ongoing decline as drugs and alcohol take on greater importance in his or her daily life.

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Treatment for Drug Addiction

Detox Treatment

Detox treatment provides you with the supports needed to stop abusing drugs or alcohol. These supports typically take the form of:

While not everyone who enters recovery will require an in-house detox program, those with long histories of substance abuse or chronic users will most definitely require some form of professional detox treatment help.

Call our helpline at 800-654-0987 if you have questions about detox treatment program options.

Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Long-term drug and alcohol addictions often leave addicts in poor physical health, with many also struggling with severe psychological disorders. Both inpatient and residential treatment programs operate as live-in treatment environments so a person lives at the treatment facility for the duration of the program.

For people affected by the most severe forms of addictions, addiction recovery should begin with inpatient treatment care. Inpatient programs provide ongoing medical, psychological and addiction treatment.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, the overall goal in inpatient treatment works to stabilize your condition and provide you with a solid foundation in the recovery process. Inpatient programs can run anywhere from two weeks to three months long depending on the severity of the addiction problem.

If you’re only dealing with an addiction problem, residential treatment programs help you work through the underlying issues that drive addiction while helping you develop healthy coping behaviors for managing daily life stressors. Residential programs can run anywhere from 30 days to six months in duration.

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Outpatient Treatment

If you’re at the early stages of drug and alcohol addiction and still have work and/or family obligations to meet, an outpatient treatment program offers the type of flexibility you’ll need. In effect, residential and outpatient programs offer the same types of services only you don’t have to live at the facility with outpatient treatment.

Services offered may include:

These types of interventions help you replace the destructive thinking and behaviors that drive substance abuse with a mindset that can support a drug-free lifestyle.

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Sober Living Programs

For people coming off severe drug and alcohol addiction, going from a treatment program to regular, everyday life can be risky in terms of the pressures and temptations that daily life brings. Sober living programs act as a bridge between the treatment program environment and going back home.

According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, sober living programs operate as semi-independent, living environments. Residents carry out the affairs of everyday life, such as holding down a job, paying rent and taking care of the home only they have a built-in support system in place that can help them when temptations to use run high.

Finding a Treatment Program

If you’re considering entering drug and alcohol addiction treatment, there are plenty of options from which to choose. More than anything else, it’s important to ensure you choose the type of program that can best address your specific treatment needs.

We can help you find a program that’s right for you. Call our toll-free helpline at 800-654-0987 to speak with one of our addiction specialists.