Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
Does a drug abuser lose empathy for others?
Chronic drug abuse can indeed affect an individual's ability to empathize with others, but it's important to note that this doesn't occur in every case and can depend on a variety of factors, including the specific substance used, the duration and severity of the abuse, and the individual's personal characteristics.
Drugs alter the brain's structure and function, including areas associated with empathy and social cognition, such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Over time, these changes can lead to decreased empathy, making it harder for individuals to understand or share the feelings of others.
Additionally, the lifestyle associated with chronic drug abuse can also contribute to a loss of empathy. As individuals become more focused on obtaining and using drugs, they may start to neglect their relationships and responsibilities, which can further erode their ability to connect with others on an emotional level.
Furthermore, individuals with substance use disorders often experience a range of negative emotions, such as guilt, shame, anxiety, and depression, which can make it harder for them to empathize with others. They might also become defensive or dismissive of others' feelings as a way of protecting themselves from these negative emotions.
However, it's important to note that these changes are not necessarily permanent. Many people who recover from substance use disorders are able to rebuild their capacity for empathy with time, treatment, and effort. Cognitive-behavioral therapies, mindfulness practices, and other therapeutic approaches can help individuals to improve their emotional understanding and empathy.
What is drug addiction commonly called in the mental health fields?
In the mental health field, drug addiction is commonly referred to as a "Substance Use Disorder" (SUD). This term is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.
A Substance Use Disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors characterized by an inability to control or cut down on use, spending a lot of time obtaining the substance, craving the substance, failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use, and continuing to use the substance despite knowing it's causing physical or psychological harm.
Substance Use Disorders can be further categorized based on the specific substance involved, such as Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, and so forth. The severity of the disorder is also assessed (mild, moderate, or severe) based on the number of diagnostic criteria met by an individual.
It's worth noting that this terminology emphasizes the understanding of drug addiction as a medical disorder, rather than a moral failing or a matter of willpower. This shift in language is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and promote a more compassionate, effective approach to treatment.
Can you send a person to rehab against their will?
The ability to send someone to rehab against their will is highly dependent on the specific laws and regulations of your location. In general, in many jurisdictions, including most states in the U.S., adults cannot be forced into rehab without their consent unless certain legal criteria are met.
However, in some cases where the person poses a danger to themselves or others, a process known as "involuntary commitment" may be possible. This generally involves a court order and typically requires proof that the person is unable to make rational decisions about their health and safety due to their substance use. The specifics of this process, including the standards of proof and the length of time a person can be held, vary widely by jurisdiction.
For minors, parents or guardians typically have the legal right to place their child into a treatment program without the child's consent. Again, the exact laws vary by jurisdiction.
Even if it's legally possible to send someone to rehab against their will, it's important to note that involuntary treatment can be controversial and is not always the most effective approach. Addiction treatment typically requires active participation and a personal commitment to recovery for the best chances of success. Instead, consider engaging a professional interventionist or counselor who can help facilitate a conversation about the person's substance use and the benefits of treatment.
In all cases, it's important to consult with a legal professional in your area to understand the legalities around involuntary treatment. It's also crucial to work with healthcare professionals to ensure that any actions taken are in the best interests of the person struggling with addiction.