Addiction: When to Get Counseling for Drug and Substance Use Problems

While some people are able to use prescription or recreational drugs without becoming addicted, substance use can become a serious problem for others, resulting in significant consequences. The use of drugs to escape one’s problems usually only leads to new problems and causes existing problems to grow worse.

If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s drug or substance abuse, it is important to know that help is available. By learning about the nature of drug and substance abuse, including how to recognize addiction, you can develop a better understanding of the best way to deal with this issue.

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

There can be many different reasons for experimenting with drug use. Many people first try drugs to have a good time, out of curiosity or because their friends are doing it. Others try it to ease other problems, such as anxiety, stress, or depression. Usage does not automatically or instantly lead to abuse and addiction. Drug and substance abuse and addiction is actually less about the amount used or even the frequency of usage. Instead, it is about the reasons one turns to drug and substance abuse as well as the consequences of that usage. If drug and substance abuse is creating problems in your life, including at home, work, or in relationships, then there is a good chance that you have a drug or substance abuse problem.

What Is Drug and Substance Abuse?

Addiction is quite complex in nature, but is typically characterized by someone who feels compelled to use certain drugs or substances. Each substance produces different side effects. Even so, all substances that are abused have one thing in common. This is that when used repeatedly, the substance changes the way the brain functions.

Even taking a recreational drug can result in a rush of dopamine to the brain. This, in turn, triggers feelings of pleasure. As a result, the brain will want to repeat those feelings and begin craving the substance. Once you have become addicted to the substance, it will take on the same importance as other behaviors that are important to your very survival, including eating and drinking. The changes that occur in the brain interfere with your ability to exercise good judgment, think clearly, and even control your own behavior. Regardless of the substance to which you are addicted, you may experience an uncontrollable craving to use that substance. That craving becomes more important than anything else in your life. You may find yourself rationalizing the addiction because the urge to continue using that substance is so strong. Some individuals will be dishonest about the amount and/or frequency of substance use in an effort to diminish the severity of the problem.

Drug and Substance Abuse Symptoms

You or someone you care about may be abusing or may have even become addicted to drugs or other substances, if you observe the following symptoms:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, or school
  • Using drugs or other substances under dangerous conditions
  • Taking risks while using or abusing the substance
  • Getting into legal trouble as a result of the substance use
  • Problems in relationships due to the drug or substance use

Individuals who have become addicted to a substance may also exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Building up a tolerance to the substance. You may require more of the substance to experience the same effects.
  • Using the substance to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, nausea, depression, insomnia, anxiety, shaking, and sweating.
  • Loss of control over usage of the drug or substance.
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Continued use of the substance even though you know it is harming you.

The Causes of Drug and Substance Abuse

As is the case with many other conditions and disorder, vulnerability to drug and substance abuse varies among individuals. A variety of factors, including mental health, your genetic predisposition, and social and family environment can all have a role in drug and substance abuse and addiction. Risk factors that might increase ones vulnerability include:

  • Early use of drugs
  • Family history of addiction
  • Mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Neglect and abuse

Getting Help with Drug and Substance Abuse

If you believe that you or someone you care about may be addicted to drugs or other substances, there is no need to try to go it on your own. There is help available. Recovering from drug and substance abuse is much easier when you have the right support network in place, including a therapist with experience helping individuals who have struggled with drug and substance abuse.

Therapists specializing in addiction recovery can help you to set both short-term and long-term goals while you work toward overcoming your addiction. Once you have achieved sobriety, you can learn how to develop adaptive skills that will aid your continued recovery in regaining your emotional and physical health. An experienced therapist can also work with you to explore the root cause of your addiction while helping you to develop coping strategies. As part of therapy, you may also work toward accepting personal responsibility for your own actions and rebuilding relationships that were damaged as a result of your substance abuse.

Several types of therapy can prove to be helpful as you work toward recovery. Among those forms of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. Motivational interviewing therapy can also be quite effective. Depending on the individual, participating in a self-help group can also assist you on your continued path to recovery.

It’s not uncommon for some individuals to have a fear of seeking help for drug and substance abuse due to a variety of concerns. With some exceptions that would be explained by the therapist, confidentiality in substance abuse treatment should be expected.

Regardless of how long you or someone close to you has been battling drug or substance abuse, help is available. The first step toward recovery is recognizing the presence of a problem and reaching out to ask for help.

If you find you relate to the information in this article and would like some help, please contact Rita with Sioux Falls Wellness Counseling at (605) 610-9228.