Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
How do addictive drugs influence behavior?
Addictive drugs influence behavior by interacting with the brain's reward system. This system is responsible for driving pleasurable feelings and motivating behaviors essential to human survival, such as eating and socializing. Addictive substances can hijack this system, leading to changes in behavior and brain function.
Here's a simplified explanation of how this works:
Alteration of Neurotransmitter Activity: Addictive substances often increase the levels of certain neurotransmitters, chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. One key neurotransmitter affected by many drugs is dopamine, which is closely associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.
Overstimulation of the Reward System: By increasing dopamine levels, addictive drugs overstimulate the reward system, often creating a sense of euphoria. This intense pleasure can lead individuals to repeat the drug use to recapture this feeling.
Development of Tolerance and Dependence: Over time, the brain adapts to the increased dopamine levels by producing less dopamine or reducing the number of receptors that can receive signals. As a result, the drug's effects are lessened, a phenomenon known as tolerance. This can lead users to take increasingly larger doses of the drug to achieve the same dopamine high. This cycle can lead to dependence, where the brain relies on the drug to function normally.
Withdrawal and Cravings: When the drug is not taken, withdrawal symptoms can occur as the brain attempts to rebalance itself. These can include negative emotions like anxiety and depression, physical symptoms like nausea or restlessness, and intense cravings for the drug.
Compulsive Drug-seeking Behavior: As the cycle of tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, and cravings continues, individuals may engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior, even when faced with negative health, social, or legal consequences. This is a key characteristic of addiction.
Impairment in Decision-making and Self-control: Long-term drug use can also cause changes to other areas of the brain that impair decision-making, self-control, judgment, learning, and memory, further fueling the cycle of addiction.
Why are lgbtq+ individuals at higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse?
LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others) individuals are indeed at a higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse due to a variety of factors that often intersect and compound over time. These factors primarily relate to the stress and challenges associated with living as a marginalized group in many societies. Here are some of the main factors:
Minority Stress: This term refers to the chronic stress faced by individuals belonging to a stigmatized minority group. For LGBTQ+ individuals, this can stem from societal prejudice, discrimination, and violence related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such stressors can contribute to increased substance use as a coping mechanism.
Stigma and Discrimination: Experiences of rejection, exclusion, and maltreatment can increase feelings of anxiety and depression, which are associated with higher substance use rates. This can occur in various settings, including workplaces, schools, and even within families and social networks.
Internalized Negative Self-Perceptions: LGBTQ+ individuals may internalize societal biases and develop negative self-perceptions about their identity, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem. These feelings can contribute to the misuse of substances as a form of self-medication.
Lack of Inclusive Healthcare: Many healthcare systems lack the resources or training to provide culturally competent care to LGBTQ+ individuals. This can make it difficult for these individuals to seek help or access effective treatment for substance use disorders.
Social Isolation: Feelings of isolation, which can be the result of rejection or non-acceptance by family, friends, or society, can increase the risk of substance use and misuse.
Intersectional Identity Stressors: LGBTQ+ individuals who also belong to other marginalized groups (like racial or ethnic minorities) may face additional stressors that can increase the risk of substance abuse.
What is a typical day like in an inpatient drug rehab?
Inpatient drug rehab provides a structured environment for individuals recovering from substance use disorders. The specific details of a typical day can vary between facilities, but most will follow a general schedule that includes therapeutic activities, meals, free time, and sleep. Here's a rough outline of what a day in an inpatient rehab might look like:
- Wake Up: Residents typically wake up early to start their day. Some facilities may offer morning activities like yoga or meditation to help residents start their day in a calm and mindful way.
- Breakfast: A healthy meal is provided to start the day. This is also a time for social interaction with other residents.
- Group Therapy or Counseling: After breakfast, residents often participate in a group therapy session. This could be a general therapy session or a specific type of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
- Lunch: After morning therapy sessions, residents will have lunch, often followed by a short break.
- Therapies: The afternoon is typically filled with various therapeutic activities. These could include individual counseling, specialized therapies (like art or music therapy), or educational sessions about addiction and recovery.
- Dinner: In the evening, residents will have dinner, which, like all meals in rehab, is typically designed to promote overall health and wellness.
- Evening Group Session: Many rehab centers host an evening group session, which might be a support group, a 12-step meeting, or another form of group therapy.
- Free Time: After the day's structured activities, residents usually have some free time. They might use this time to relax, read, journal, or socialize with other residents.
- Bedtime: To ensure adequate rest, lights-out times are typically enforced.
Throughout the day, residents may also have scheduled times for medication (if applicable), physical exercise, and meeting with their treatment team. The goal of this structured daily routine is to provide a stable, supportive environment that promotes healing and recovery.
It's important to note that the exact schedule and types of activities will vary between different rehab centers and individual treatment plans. When choosing a rehab center, it can be helpful to ask about the daily schedule and types of therapies offered to ensure it aligns with your needs and preferences.