Chemical Dependency & Substance Abuse

Facts
  • Chemical Dependency is defined as the continued use of alcohol, prescription drugs, and street drugs (cocaine/crack, methamphetamine, speed, heroin, marijuana, LSD, and other drugs).
  • Chemical Dependency, like all addictions, is a chronic, progressive illness that can be treated effectively.
  • Chemical Dependency can be influenced by genetics and environment. But, ultimately, the phenomenon of addiction can affect anyone of any gender, race, age, IQ, religion, or background.
  • Drugs and alcohol are some of the most deadly killers in America.
  • The majority of alcoholics and addicts who do not seek help will end up institutionalized, in prison, or dead as a result of their disease. •Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit.
  • The most rapid drugs of choice sweeping the country are opiods – prescription pain pills. A few examples are Norco, Lortab, Vicodin, oxycontin, morphine. The drug hydrocodone is present in many of them – and it is possible to “switch” patients to a safer form called Suboxone.
Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms include getting intoxicated (drunk) or high on drugs on a regular basis, lying, cheating, stealing, avoiding family and friends, giving up activities once enjoyed, erratic behavior, changes in appearance, believing they need to drink or use drugs to “have a good time,” pressuring others to drink or use drugs, getting in trouble with the law, school, and work. With alcohol addiction, victims tend to isolate themselves and become severely depressed. They might be observed hung-over often and reeking of alcohol frequently. Marijuana abusers tend to be unmotivated, apathetic, and depressed. Bloodshot eyes is another indicator of marijuana use. Cocaine and crack addicts tend to sniffle frequently, have accelerated speech, paranoia, weight loss, and a major decline financially. LSD users tend to have major changes in thought pattern and often experience terrifying flashbacks. If you suspect a person is abusing alcohol or drugs, attempt to confront them about their problem. If they become hostile or overly defensive, it might indicate they have a problem.

A psychiatrist or qualified mental health professional usually diagnoses substance abuse. Clinical findings often depend on the substance abused, the frequency of use, and the length of time since last used.

Treatment

A variety of treatment programs for substance abuse are available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Programs considered are usually based on the type of substance abused. Detoxification (if necessary) and long-term follow-up management are important for successful treatment. 12-Step Programs are helpful in offering a structure of living that is both beneficial and rewarding to the recovering addict. Many addicts and alcoholics do not seek help until they have hit “rock-bottom” and have no other options. Because of this, family interventions (often with the aid of a trained counselor or physician) might be necessary.

Each addiction is specific and thus each addict’s treatment might vary. Medications, psychotherapy, and group and family counseling are options. It should be up to a trained physician or counselor to suggest the most appropriate treatment program.

NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) Fourth Edition, The American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C. Copyright 2000
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