Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
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.
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."
What can I do to help someone addicted to drugs?
Learn about addiction: Educate yourself on drug addiction, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. This knowledge will help you better understand the person's struggles and provide informed support.
Approach with empathy: Start a conversation with the person about their drug use in a non-judgmental and empathetic manner. Express your concerns for their well-being and the impact of their drug use on their life.
Encourage professional help: Encourage the person to seek professional assistance from a medical professional, therapist, or addiction counselor. Offer to help them find suitable resources and provide support as they take steps towards treatment.
Offer emotional support: Be available to listen and provide emotional support throughout the recovery process. Maintain open communication and offer a safe space for the individual to share their experiences and feelings.
Suggest support groups: Recommend joining support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery, which provide a community of individuals with similar experiences and offer guidance and encouragement throughout the recovery process.
Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect your own well-being and communicate your expectations about the person's behavior. Be firm yet compassionate, making it clear that you will not enable their drug use.
Assist with lifestyle changes: Help the person develop healthier habits, such as engaging in physical activity, improving their diet, and finding alternative ways to manage stress. Offer to participate in these activities together to provide additional support and motivation.
Be patient: Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process, and relapses may occur. Understand that setbacks are part of the journey, and continue to offer support and encouragement as the person works towards sobriety.
Care for yourself: Supporting someone with drug addiction can be emotionally taxing. Ensure you are taking care of your own mental and emotional health by seeking support from friends, family, or professional counselors if needed.