Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
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.
How to help an addict without enabling them?
Helping an individual struggling with addiction without enabling them requires a fine balance. Here are some strategies that might be helpful:
- Understand the Difference between Helping and Enabling: Helping involves actions that promote recovery and responsibility, while enabling involves actions that indirectly support or condone the addictive behavior. For example, providing money without accountability might support the purchase of substances, which would be enabling. Instead, directly paying for a necessity like rent or an utility bill could be a more supportive choice.
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear rules and expectations for behavior. These could involve no drug use at home, or consequences for missed commitments. Consistency is important when enforcing these boundaries.
- Encourage Treatment: Continually encourage your loved one to seek professional help for their addiction. You could assist by researching treatment options or helping to arrange appointments, but the decision to follow through must ultimately be theirs.
- Offer Emotional Support: Provide reassurance, empathy, and love. This kind of support fosters a sense of self-worth, which can be a motivating factor for seeking treatment.
- Avoid Covering Up for Their Addiction: Do not lie or make excuses for their behavior. This can perpetuate the cycle of denial and avoid the necessary realization of the harmful effects of their addiction.
- Practice Self-Care: Caring for someone with an addiction can be emotionally draining. Be sure to take care of your own health and wellbeing, seeking outside support if needed.
- Educate Yourself: Learning about the nature of addiction can help you respond more effectively. Consider attending support group meetings for friends and family members of people with addiction, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
- Support Recovery, Not Addiction: Be mindful of any actions that may unintentionally support the addiction rather than the person. This could involve refusing to provide money that could be used on substances, while instead offering help in forms that directly support recovery, like providing transportation to therapy sessions.
Is there Government assistance to pay for rehab?
Yes, in the United States, there are several forms of government assistance that can help pay for rehab.
Medicaid: Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Many states' Medicaid programs provide coverage for a range of substance use disorder services, including detoxification, outpatient counseling, residential treatment, medication-assisted treatment, and more. The specific services covered and eligibility criteria can vary by state.
Medicare: Medicare, a federal program primarily for people age 65 and older, also provides coverage for some substance use disorder treatment. This can include inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment services, and medication-assisted treatment.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA): The ACA, also known as Obamacare, requires health insurance plans sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace to cover substance use disorder services. This means that individuals who purchase insurance through the Marketplace can access rehab services, often at a lower cost due to income-based subsidies.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA offers grants to states and organizations to provide treatment and recovery services for individuals with substance use disorders. Individuals may be able to access services funded by these grants at little or no cost.
State and Local Government Programs: Many states and localities have their own programs to help residents access substance use disorder treatment. These programs may offer direct funding for treatment, operate state-funded treatment facilities, or provide vouchers to pay for private treatment.
Veterans Affairs (VA): The VA provides a range of substance use disorder treatment services to eligible veterans, including detoxification, rehab, outpatient counseling, and medication-assisted treatment.
Indian Health Service (IHS): The IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, including services for substance use disorders.