Unless you've walked a mile in the shoes of a person suffering from addiction, chemical dependency may remain a mystery to you. Substance abuse. Recovery. Relapse. It can be hard to understand the facts behind them.
Addiction does significant damage to a person’s physical and mental health, and overall well-being. It also causes notable harm to family and loved ones. With so many people impacted by the addiction crisis, it’s important to dispel the confusion surrounding this disease and its consequences.
Fact: Addiction Rewires Brain Circuits
Substance abuse causes changes in the brain. What starts as a euphoric experience becomes a 24/7 effort to simply feel normal. Even when faced with negative consequences, the addicted brain is consumed with the goal of getting more drugs. For anyone who’s struggling with chemical dependency, the focus is avoiding withdrawal sickness at all costs. Read How Opioids Hijack Your Brain.
Fact: Relapse Is Not Failure
During the recovery process, relapse is common. Many people have one or more relapses, often caused by emotional struggles that trigger drug or alcohol use. Just because someone has used again doesn’t mean treatment failed or recovery is unattainable. Relapse is not the end; it’s a learning opportunity. It’s an opportunity to uncover the triggers that led to relapse and put protective measures in place to prevent future relapses. Read Recovery Doesn't End After Treatment and How To Support Someone Experiencing A Relapse.
Fact: No Need To Hit Rock Bottom
One persistent myth is that anyone who’s struggling with substance abuse must hit rock bottom before they can get help. That is simply not true. In fact, the earlier the intervention, the better. The longer the substance abuse continues, the more damage that happens to the support systems in the addicted person's life. Early intervention can decrease the damage done. Why wait until there is irreparable damage to relationships, careers and finances.
Fact: No One Should Go Cold Turkey
Going cold turkey is deciding it’s time to quit using without tapering or receiving medically supervised detox. Cold turkey is a process that creates extreme medical dangers as well as significant recovery hurdles. Recovery is made up of several stages, combining medically supervised detox, behavioral counseling, nutrition, and emotional and physical support. We can’t expect people who are struggling with chemical dependency to simply go cold turkey and then everything will go back to normal.
Fact: Compassion Beats Punishment
Research has shown that responding to a loved one's substance abuse with compassion is more effective than punishment, shaming or detachment. It’s better to reinforce positive behaviors than to punish negative ones. Showing empathy over anger gets a better response. Read How To Support A Loved One Suffering With Addiction.
Fact: Recovery Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Recovery takes time. It involves learning new coping skills, making huge changes, and building a new life. This doesn’t happen overnight. Many who struggle with substance abuse need long-term care or repeated treatment – and that’s okay. Over time, it’s possible to learn new skills and lead a happy normal life free from substance abuse.
If you or a loved ones needs help, give our team a call at 330-330-8777.