How To Face Addiction
Jason’s life is beginning to reveal itself. His grades have worsened, he is in a bad mood, he does not talk to his friends and he has stopped going to training. Jason’s friends know that he has been experimenting with drugs and they fear that he has become addicted.
Defining an addiction is complicated, and knowing how to deal with it is even more difficult.
What are substance abuse and addiction?
The difference between substance abuse and addiction is very slight. Substance abuse means consuming an illegal substance or using a legal substance incorrectly. The addiction begins as abuse, or consuming substances such as marijuana or cocaine. You can consume a drug (or alcohol) without having an addiction. For example, just because Sara has smoked marijuana a few times does not mean she has an addiction, but that she has used a drug, and this can lead to addiction.
People can become addicted to all kinds of substances. When we think of an addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people can become addicted to drugs, tobacco, even glue. And some substances are more addictive than others: drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive, that testing them once or twice may be enough for the person who consumes them to lose control.
Addiction means that a person can not control their desire to consume a drug or drink. Someone who is addicted to cocaine has become so used to the drug that he can not stop using it. The addiction can be physical, psychological or both.
Being physically addicted means that a person’s body becomes dependent on a particular substance (even smoking can be addictive). It also increases the person’s tolerance to that substance, so that the person needs an increasing dose to obtain the same effect. Someone who is physically addicted and stops using a substance, such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco, experiences a withdrawal syndrome . Some symptoms of withdrawal syndrome include diarrhea, tremors and feeling lousy in general.
Psychological addiction occurs when the desire to consume a drug is psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel that the desire to consume a drug exceeds them. They can lie and even steal to get it.
A person crosses the line that separates consumption from dependency when he no longer uses the drug to have fun or to “place himself”, but he has become dependent on it. His life focuses on his need for the drug. An addicted person – whether he has a physical or psychological addiction or both – feels he can not stop using the drug.
Signs of addiction
The most obvious sign of addiction is the need to consume a certain drug or substance. However, there are many other signs that can indicate a possible addiction, such as mood swings or loss or weight gain. (Although these signs may also indicate other problems, such as depression or eating disorders.)
Signs that you or someone you know may have an addiction to a drug or alcohol include:
- use drugs or alcohol as a way to forget problems or to relax
- retract or hide secrets from family and friends
- loss of interest in activities that were previously important
- problems with school performance, such as getting worse grades or missing school
- Changes in friendships, such as dating friends who use drugs
- spend time thinking about how to get drugs
- steal or sell belongings to pay for drugs
- failed attempts to stop using drugs or drinking
- anxiety, anger or depression
- changes in mood
- changes in sleep habits
- feeling weak or feeling bad when trying to stop using the substance
- need to consume more of that substance to achieve the same effect
- changes in eating habits, including weight loss or weight gain
If you think you are addicted to a drug or alcohol, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step in getting help.
Many people believe that they can overcome the problem alone, but that does not work in most cases. Find someone you trust to talk to. For starters, it can help you talk to a friend or someone your age, but the best way to get help is to talk to an adult who can support you and understand you. If you can not talk to your parents, you could talk to a school counselor, a relative, a doctor, your favorite teacher or a priest.
Unfortunately, overcoming an addiction is not easy. Leaving drugs or alcohol will probably be one of the most difficult things you have ever done in your life. It is not a sign of weakness that you need professional help from a counselor or psychotherapist who specializes in addictions. Most people who manage to quit drugs or alcohol need professional help or treatment to achieve it.
Tips for recovery
Once you start a treatment, follow these tips to make the path of recovery less intricate:
- Tell your friends your decision to stop using drugs. Your true friends will respect your decision. This may mean that you will need to find a new group of friends who will support you 100%. Unless everyone decides to quit the drugs at the same time, you probably will not be able to keep dating the same friends you used drugs with.
- Ask your friends or family to allow you to use their help when you need them. You may need to call someone in the middle of the night just to talk. If you are going through a difficult time, do not try to face the problem alone; accept the help offered by family and friends.
- Accept invitations to places where you know there will be no drugs or alcohol. Going to the movies is probably something without risk, but it’s probably best if you do not attend a Friday night party until you feel more secure. Plan activities that do not involve the presence of drugs. Go to the cinema, play bowling or attend classes of some artistic activity with a friend.
- Think beforehand what you will do if you find yourself in a situation where there is drugs or alcohol. Sometimes there will be some temptation, but if you know how to face it, you will not have problems. Establish a plan with your parents or siblings so that if you call home using a certain code, they will know that your call is a signal that you need them to come and pick you up right away.
- Remember that having an addiction does not make you bad or weak. If you fall back into old habits (you have a slip or a relapse), talk to an adult as soon as possible. There is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is important to get help as soon as possible so that you do not lose all the effort you have put into your recovery.
If you are worried about a friend who has an addiction, also use these tips to help you. For example, tell your friend that he can talk to you if he needs it or offer your support. If you realize that a friend is relapsing, talk about it openly and ask what you can do to help. If your friend falls back into drugs or drinking and does not accept your help, do not be afraid to talk to a caring adult who does not seem threatening to you, such as a parent or school counselor. Maybe you think you’re giving away your friend, but it’s the best help you can offer.
Above all, encourage and praise as much as you can a friend who is struggling to overcome an addiction. It may seem sentimental, but the motivation your friends just need is to hear that they are important to you.
Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction does not end with a 6-week treatment program. It is a process for life. For many people, finding a support group can help them stay clean of drugs. There are specific support groups for teenagers and young people. You will find people who have gone through the same experiences as you, and you will have the opportunity to listen to debates about the real experience with drugs that you would not listen to in your health education classes at your school.
Many people find that helping others is also the best way to help themselves. Your understanding of how difficult the recovery process is, can be very helpful in supporting others – both adolescents and adults – who are struggling to overcome an addiction.
If you have a relapse, recognizing the problem as soon as possible is essential. Seek help immediately so as not to spoil all the effort you put into your initial recovery. And, if you have a relapse, never be afraid to ask for help!