Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
If my mom and dad were substance abusers am I destined for the same?
While a family history of substance abuse can increase your risk of developing a similar issue due to both genetic and environmental factors, it does not mean you are destined to become a substance abuser. Genetics can make up about 40-60% of the risk for addiction, but the remaining percentage is influenced by environmental and personal factors.
Environmental influences can include your upbringing, your parents' behaviors, your exposure to drugs or alcohol, your social circle, and your experiences with stress and trauma. Personal factors involve your individual personality traits, your mental health, and your coping mechanisms. All these can significantly contribute to whether or not you develop a substance use disorder.
Importantly, risk is not destiny. Just because you are at a higher risk doesn't mean you will inevitably develop a substance abuse problem. Prevention strategies can be highly effective. These might include:
Education: Understanding the risks and consequences of substance abuse can deter initiation of drug use.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Developing healthy ways to cope with stress, such as through exercise, meditation, hobbies, or therapy, can reduce the need to turn to substances for relief.
Strong Support Networks: Having supportive and understanding friends, family, or mentors can provide a safety net when facing potential pitfalls.
Mental Health Care: Ensuring good mental health through therapy or counseling can reduce the risk, as mental health disorders can increase the likelihood of substance abuse.
Delaying Substance Use: The later in life a person first uses drugs, the less likely they are to develop a problem.
Remember, even if substance abuse does become an issue, it is not a life sentence. Effective treatments are available that can help individuals overcome addiction and lead healthy, productive lives. If you're worried about your risk, it might be helpful to discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider, a counselor, or a trusted person in your life.
Why do drug addicts do what they do?
"People with substance use disorders engage in their behavior for various reasons, often complex and interconnected. Understanding these reasons is crucial to treating addiction. Here are some common factors:
Pleasure Seeking: Drugs often produce intense feelings of pleasure, euphoria, or relief from pain. The initial high can be so powerful that individuals continue using the substance to experience that feeling again.
Escape or Self-Medication: Many people use drugs as a way to escape from reality or cope with difficult feelings, trauma, stress, or mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Drugs can temporarily dull these feelings, but they do not address the root cause of the distress.
Physical Dependence: Over time, the body can develop a physical dependence on the substance, requiring it to function normally. Without the substance, the individual may experience unpleasant or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Psychological Dependence: Even after physical dependence is managed, psychological cravings can persist. The desire to use drugs can become a powerful mental urge that dominates a person's thoughts and behaviors.
Peer Pressure or Social Influence: The influence of friends or social circles where drug use is common can encourage initial use or ongoing abuse of drugs.
Genetic Factors and Early Exposure: Genetics can play a role in vulnerability to addiction, as can exposure to drugs at a young age or in the prenatal period.
Lack of Coping Mechanisms: Without healthy coping strategies for life's stresses and challenges, some people turn to drugs as a way of dealing with these issues.
Changes in Brain Function: Long-term substance use can lead to changes in the brain that result in increased cravings and decreased ability to resist drug use, despite harmful consequences.
What is the 12 step method for treating addiction?
"The 12-step method for treating addiction is a structured, peer-based approach that originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s. Since then, it has been adapted for various other substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), and Overeaters Anonymous (OA), among others. The method is based on a set of guiding principles, known as the 12 steps, that outline a path to recovery, personal growth, and spiritual development.
The 12 steps of the method are as follows:
- Admitting powerlessness over the addiction and recognizing that one's life has become unmanageable.
- Believing that a higher power (interpreted by each individual according to their beliefs) can restore sanity and provide support in recovery.
- Deciding to turn one's will and life over to the care of the higher power.
- Conducting a thorough and honest moral inventory of oneself.
- Admitting to oneself, the higher power, and another person the exact nature of one's wrongs and shortcomings.
- Being ready to have the higher power remove these defects of character.
- Humbly asking the higher power to remove one's shortcomings.
- Making a list of all the people harmed by one's addiction and being willing to make amends to them.
- Making direct amends to those harmed, whenever possible, except when doing so would cause harm to them or others.
- Continuing to take personal inventory and promptly admitting when one is wrong.
- Seeking to improve one's conscious contact with the higher power through prayer and meditation, asking for knowledge of the higher power's will and the strength to carry it out.
- Having experienced a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, carrying the message to others struggling with addiction and practicing these principles in all aspects of life.
The 12-step method emphasizes the importance of peer support, mutual aid, and the sharing of personal experiences as a means of overcoming addiction. Participants typically attend regular meetings, where they share their stories, listen to others, and work through the steps at their own pace. Many 12-step programs also encourage members to find a sponsor, an experienced member who has worked through the steps and can provide guidance, support, and accountability during the recovery process."