Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
How does a person become addicted to drugs?
Addiction to drugs is a complex process that involves a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. It is not simply a matter of weak willpower or moral failing, but rather a chronic disease of the brain that can develop over time.
Here's a simplified explanation of how a person may become addicted to drugs:
- Initial Use: The path to addiction often begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. This could be due to curiosity, peer pressure, seeking pleasure or relief from stress, or even for medical reasons under prescription.
- Pleasure and Reward: Drugs alter the brain's normal functioning, typically leading to intense feelings of pleasure or the elimination of uncomfortable feelings. They do this by overstimulating the brain's reward system - particularly by releasing large amounts of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which plays a significant role in feelings of pleasure and reward.
- Repeated Use and Tolerance: Over time, as a person continues to use the drug, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine by producing less of it or reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the high, leading the person to take more of the drug in an attempt to recreate the original experience. This is known as developing a tolerance.
- Dependence: As the brain becomes used to the drug, physiological changes occur that make the person's body require the drug to function "normally." When the drug is not taken, withdrawal symptoms may be experienced, driving the person to continue using the drug to avoid these uncomfortable or even painful symptoms.
- Addiction: At this point, seeking and consuming the drug becomes a compulsion. The person may want to stop using the drug, but they find it extremely difficult or impossible to do so on their own, even in the face of negative consequences to their health, relationships, or other aspects of their life. The brain's cognitive functions related to judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control are significantly altered, leading to harmful behaviors and the cycle of addiction.
What drugs turn off emotions and make you feel numb?
Several classes of drugs can have the effect of numbing emotions or creating a feeling of emotional detachment. It's important to note that these effects can vary widely between individuals and depend on many factors, including the dosage, the method of use, and the individual's personal physiology and psychology. Here are a few examples:
Depressants: This category of drugs, which includes alcohol, benzodiazepines (like Xanax or Valium), and opioids (like heroin or prescription painkillers), can reduce brain activity and dull emotions. Users often report feeling numb or detached from their emotions.
Dissociatives: Dissociative drugs like ketamine, PCP, and certain kinds of cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DXM), can induce a state of detachment from reality and one's self, which can include a sense of emotional numbness.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): While primarily used as antidepressants, some individuals report feeling emotionally numb or detached when taking SSRIs. This is generally considered a side effect, and if experienced, should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
Antipsychotics: These medications are primarily used to treat conditions like schizophrenia, but they can also induce a state of emotional numbness or flatness in some individuals.
While these substances can make a person feel emotionally numb, it's important to note that this is often a temporary and potentially harmful solution. Long-term use can lead to a range of negative health effects, including physical dependence, addiction, and a worsening of emotional or mental health symptoms. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, it's crucial to seek help from a mental health professional rather than turning to substances. They can provide support and discuss healthier ways to cope with these feelings.
How do I repair relationships damaged by my drug and alcohol abuse?
"Repairing relationships damaged by substance abuse is a process that takes time, effort, and a sincere commitment to change. Here are some steps to consider:
Achieve Sobriety: The first step in repairing relationships is to focus on your recovery. Demonstrating commitment to sobriety shows your loved ones that you are serious about making a change.
Acknowledge the Damage: Be open and honest about the harm your substance abuse has caused to your relationships. Acknowledging the problem is the first step towards making amends.
Apologize Sincerely: Offer a sincere and heartfelt apology. It's essential to take responsibility for your actions and the pain they've caused, without making excuses.
Make Amends: Making amends goes beyond apologizing. It involves taking action to correct past wrongs where possible, whether that means repaying debts, resolving past disputes, or simply making a commitment to behave differently in the future.
Open Communication: Maintain open, honest, and regular communication with your loved ones. Be open to their feelings and feedback, even if it's tough to hear.
Be Patient: Healing takes time. Your loved ones may not be ready to immediately forgive or trust you again. Respect their feelings and give them the time they need to heal.
Seek Professional Help: Family or relationship therapy can provide a safe and structured environment to address issues, improve communication, and begin the process of rebuilding trust.
Maintain Consistency: One of the most crucial steps in repairing relationships is consistently demonstrating your commitment to your recovery and to positive change. This consistency helps to rebuild trust over time.
Support Their Healing: Understand that your addiction may have caused significant pain and trauma to your loved ones. Support them in their own process of healing, which may include their own therapy or participation in support groups.
Rebuild Trust: Broken trust is often the most challenging aspect of a relationship to mend. Proving through actions over time that you're committed to your sobriety and to being reliable and truthful can gradually rebuild trust.