Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
Can I go cold turkey to stop abusing opioids?
While going "cold turkey," or suddenly stopping the use of opioids, might seem like a fast way to begin recovery, it's generally not recommended due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms and potential health risks.
Opioid withdrawal can be intensely uncomfortable and, in some cases, hazardous. Symptoms can include severe cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements. In severe cases, withdrawal can lead to serious dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.
Furthermore, abruptly stopping opioid use can significantly increase the risk of relapse. The discomfort of withdrawal symptoms may make it more difficult to stay abstinent, and an individual may be tempted to use again just to relieve these symptoms. If a person relapses and takes the same dose they were previously accustomed to, the risk of overdose is high because the body's tolerance to the substance has decreased.
For these reasons, opioid withdrawal should ideally be managed under the supervision of healthcare professionals. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which includes medications like methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone, can be used to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications work by acting on the same brain receptors targeted by opioids, but they do so in a safer manner that helps to manage withdrawal and reduce the risk of relapse.
In addition to MAT, counseling and behavioral therapies are typically part of a comprehensive treatment program for opioid use disorder. These approaches can help individuals develop the skills and strategies needed to maintain recovery in the long term.
In what ways do drug addiction change one's personality?
Drug addiction can significantly change an individual's personality in various ways. The changes are often a result of how the substance interacts with the brain and can affect one's behaviors, emotions, and interactions with others. Here are some common ways in which drug addiction may alter personality:
Increased Aggression or Irritability: Substances can affect the brain's balance of neurotransmitters, leading to changes in mood and behavior. This can result in increased aggression, irritability, or mood swings, which might not align with the person's typical personality traits.
Decreased Motivation: Many addictive substances can lead to a decreased interest or motivation in activities that were once enjoyed. This can result in a noticeable change in personality, as the person may appear apathetic or disinterested in life outside their substance use.
Increased Impulsivity and Risk-taking: Drug addiction often leads to increased impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors. This is due to changes in the brain's reward system and decision-making processes, leading individuals to take more risks to obtain the substance, often disregarding the potential consequences.
Paranoia and Anxiety: Some substances can induce feelings of paranoia or increase levels of anxiety. Individuals who were previously calm and trusting may become suspicious, anxious, or overly worried.
Depression: Many individuals struggling with substance use disorders also experience symptoms of depression. This can lead to a noticeable change in personality, including increased sadness, lethargy, and withdrawal from social activities.
Manipulative Behavior: In order to continue using and obtaining drugs, individuals may resort to manipulative behaviors, such as lying, stealing, or deceit. This can result in a significant change in personality, as individuals may prioritize their addiction over their relationships and personal values.
Social Isolation: As drug addiction progresses, individuals may isolate themselves from family and friends, either to hide their substance use or because their primary relationships are increasingly with others who are using drugs.
Neglect of Personal Care: Addiction can lead to neglect of personal care and hygiene, which may manifest in physical changes as well as shifts in personality traits related to self-discipline and self-respect.
What happens in an intervention for someone with an addiction to drugs?
An intervention for someone with a drug addiction is a structured and planned event designed to encourage the individual to acknowledge their addiction and seek professional help. The primary goal is to guide the person towards accepting treatment and taking the necessary steps towards recovery. Here is an outline of what typically happens during an intervention:
- Planning: Before the intervention, loved ones and concerned parties (such as family members and friends) gather to discuss the situation and develop a plan. They may enlist the help of a professional interventionist, who can provide guidance on the intervention process and help maintain focus on the desired outcome.
- Preparation: Participants gather information about the person's addiction, the impact it has had on their lives, and the available treatment options. They also prepare personal statements expressing their concern, love, and support, while addressing the negative consequences of the individual's drug use.
- Rehearsal: The group rehearses the intervention to ensure that everyone is prepared, confident, and aware of their roles. This step helps participants maintain a calm and non-confrontational tone during the actual intervention.
- The intervention meeting: The person with the addiction is invited to a pre-arranged location, often under the pretense of a different event. The group then confronts the individual with their prepared statements, detailing the impact of the addiction on their lives and urging the person to seek help.
- Presentation of treatment options: The group presents the person with a pre-selected treatment plan or multiple options, emphasizing the importance of immediate action. It's crucial to have arrangements in place, such as pre-admission to a treatment facility or an appointment with a counselor, to facilitate a smooth transition into treatment.
- Setting boundaries and consequences: During the intervention, participants establish clear boundaries and consequences if the person refuses to accept help. These consequences may include ceasing financial support, limiting contact, or other actions to protect themselves from the negative effects of the addiction.
- Support and encouragement: Throughout the intervention, participants express their love and support for the individual, emphasizing their belief in the person's ability to recover and rebuild their life.
- Post-intervention follow-up: If the person agrees to seek treatment, the group continues to provide support during their recovery process. If the person refuses help, the group must follow through with the established consequences to reinforce the seriousness of the situation.