How To Better Support People With Addiction

12/23/2017 09:33 am ET

There is a word people do not like to hear even where they are suffering from it, a word that puts despair in the hearts of those who know they need to change their entire life around. It is a word that represents the vice that is slowing making rounds among every group of people, everywhere in the world--regardless of their age, nationality, race, and size.

That word is addiction, and it is often represents a damaging state of mind that affects health, family, and everything an individual cares about. Ironically, people often only relate addiction to the most popular types (alcohol and drug abuse) while conveniently forgetting the fact that almost anything can become addictive.

From the first time an individual engages a particular behavior to down the road when they begin investing an inordinate amount of attention and time into that behavior—even to the extent that it deteriorates to their health—the path to addiction is a difficult one. In discussing this topic, we will examine various types of addiction (with a major focus on the opioid addiction in the US today), the causes of addiction, and what an addict can do about it. Let’s take a deep dive into the details:

Types of Addiction

Research has shown that approximately 16% of the U.S population, from the age 12 and above, has at least one substance abuse problem. This includes problems with the use of alcohol, nicotine, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs amongst other things. Sadly, this does not include the fact that many of these individuals suffer from more than one addiction.

There are a wide array of compulsive behaviors that can be classified as addiction, let’s take a look at some of these.

  • The most common types of addictions are to drugs and alcohol

To start with, alcohol is perhaps the most easily abused substance in the world. Its use is worldwide and, provided you are of age, can be accessed almost anywhere. Everyone knows how dangerous alcohol can be. It is a highly addictive substance that has proven to be the root cause for a multitude of health problems over the years. Abusers have different reasons why they struggle, but the reasons behind addiction are often hard to clarify.

  • Addiction to opioid prescription drugs

Opioid drugs were created to help alleviate pain for those with especially strenuous and painful illnesses. Originally, these prescriptions were only given to a handful of individuals, mostly terminal cancer patients, and not to be used as a long-term treatment. In recent years, however, the time an individual uses prescription drugs has become longer, and these prescription drugs are getting stronger. This has led to the major addiction epidemic we now face.

Opioids were mainly created to clone the attributes of opium when it comes to pain reduction. Opioids, useful for the sedative effect it has on the brain, can be regarded as a class of strong painkillers and are popularly sold under common trade names like Oxycontin and Fentanyl. Of course, opiates are contained in almost every popular, legally recognized, pain medication—such as morphine and hydrocodone—and prescribed by doctors for patients undergoing acute or chronic pains. Unfortunately, as innocent as the motives behind its creation are, it has been seriously abused.

Over the years, the excessive use of drugs containing opium has been a source of massive concern to citizens of the U.S. It all started in the 90s when, suddenly, there was an increase in the use of drugs containing opium, resulting in an unavoidable endemic. It has been observed that the availability of these drugs, bearing in mind the gigantic risk of overdose and addiction, have fuelled this razing fire.

Very recently, in reaction to the unchecked rise in the use of these substances, in a post by CNN, via its website, it was stated that

“... the United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, as more than two million of Americans have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and street drugs... during 2015, there were 52,404 overdose deaths in the United States including 33,091 (63.01%) that involved an opioid. That is an average of 91opioid does deaths each day. The number of opioid prescriptions dispensed by doctors steadily increased from 112 million prescriptions in 1992 to a peak of 282 million in 2012, according to the market research firm IMS Health. The number of prescriptions dispensed has since declined, falling to 236 million in 2016.”

Experts in the field of addiction treatment are crying out for a fresh approach in solving opioid addiction:

Jag Davies at the Drug Policy alliance recently quoted research from the Journal of Psychopharmacology when voicing strong support for psychedelic rehabilitation.

“A good Ibogaine treatment protocol resets the neurotransmitters in the brain back to their pre-addicted state. It also induces a strong psychedelic experience in many addicts that can help them face past trauma and deal with negative decisions they have made in their lives”.
  • Addiction to a particular behavioral pattern

There are countless behavioral patterns people can get addicted to. This does not only include the use of alcohol, but it also includes eating disorders, gambling, excessive use of social media, binge eating, pornography, etc.

Causes of Addiction

There is no one particular cause for addiction. In fact, experts have had a hard time pinpointing a particular reason why people get addicted to anything, no matter what that addiction is. There are many reasons that people attribute their addictions too. It could be a situation of their background, location, family, and other instances. Some have attributed it to loneliness, abuse, economical or social plagues, etc.

Why do People Travel abroad for the treatment of Addiction?

In recent years, people who are willing to undergo rehabilitation to rid themselves of one or more of the types of addiction have found themselves traveling outside of their countries to do so. Now, with the high statistics of drug abuse in some of these nations, many are left wondering if there are good enough reasons for them to travel abroad for treatment. Here are a few reasons why people may want to seek rehabilitation outside their home country:

  • Better Options: There are many new treatments for addiction being discovered each year. Travelling abroad offers new options for addiction treatment. For many addicts, after they have already tried many of the options within the US, finding new options outside the US may offer them fresh new treatment approaches.
  • Might be cheaper: Some countries have a much lower costs. However, there are still many medical doctors who operate within the borders of these foreign countries. This gives addicts the ability to find treatment options that may be far less expensive than in their home country.
  • Change in the environment: Changing the environment an addict is in can have amazing benefits. A person might be living a toxic life due to what he/she is being exposed to on a daily basis. Opting for treatment abroad removes an individual from this familiar territory and places them in a much more suitable environment. A picturesque location can even help facilitate the healing process.

Typically, there is no one size fits all solution, and an addict may find success with treatment options that are located near them. When making the decision to travel abroad for addiction treatment, it is advisable to do proper research before settling on a specific rehabilitation program.

How to help yourself or someone you know suffering from addiction

The first step in recovery is identifying and addressing the problem. If an addict is in denial of their issues, recovery becomes tedious, if not impossible. However, this does not mean that a friend or family should not help an addict they know who is battling addiction. Gradually, helping them see their problem can pave the way to recovery. Here are a few steps that can help:

  • To start, always help an addict feel loved. The reason why many addict’s dive deeper into their unhealthy lifestyle is that they often feel left out or different. If you truly want to help, get close to the individual, this will help lay a foundation of trust for whatever help you may want to offer.
  • Most addicts will push back. Humans, by nature, resist help at the first contact. Perseverance is important. In your desire to persevere, don’t be nagging, but try to be helpful. And try not to push too hard, this can often push someone away.
  • Help the individual recognize that there is a problem
  • With baby steps, urge them to drop the unhealthy habits they are involved in. The key is never to rush a person who is battling addiction. Remember, slow and steady.
  • Enroll them into rehabilitation where necessary: In severe cases of addiction, it might can be very important for an addict to enroll in a rehab facility. This helps keep the person in check till they get better and find some freedom from their suffering.

Addiction is an age long vice, one that been in existence far longer than we know. And, although the opiate addiction is a major issue, our addictions to social media and other modern devices are also becoming an issue—one to be discussed another day. One step at a time, you can aid someone gradually out of the depths of whatever it is they are addicted to. Given the nature of our current crisis, it may require more drastic measures. Hopefully, if the epidemic continues, the FDA will consider more powerful methods of treatment, like psychedelic rehabilitation, and any other methods that could prove useful in the fight to overcome addiction.

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