With millions of Americans involved in substance abuse, almost everyone is affected by it in some way. Maybe a close family member or friend has battled alcoholism, or maybe you’ve dealt with drugs or alcohol addiction yourself. Either way, you know the pain it can cause and the scars it can leave. However, there are a few other facts you probably didn’t know—facts that can give you a new perspective on the illness.
Controlled substances often make an addict feel normal
It’s hard to believe that drugs or alcohol could normalize something in the addicts brain, but you have to remember that it is a disease. And just like any other disease, the addict feels the need to medicate it to keep it at bay. This is because so many things happen in the brain while a mind-altering substance is being used. For one, many drugs over-activate the part of the brain responsible for reward and motivation. They can increase the feeling of euphoria you would normally get from doing things like eating, socializing, and having sex. And with increased usage, you’ll eventually only be able to experience that high with drugs. Other forms of activity will become mundane and unpleasurable.
Another thing is that drugs or alcohol can help a person get temporary relief from stressful feelings. Oftentimes, an addict will have problems socializing without the substance, so they’ll retreat if they don’t have it. And the more they use it to deal with anxiety, the more difficult it becomes to cope without it.
Substance abuse is commonly linked to mental illness
Experts say “mental health problems and substance use disorders sometimes occur together” for several reasons. One is that many people with mental health disorders feel the need to self-medicate. Rather than seeking help or even realizing they need it, they will often turn to the short-term comfort a controlled substance can give them. On the flipside, some people begin to experience symptoms of a mental health issue because of the abuse of certain substances. And because some mental health disorders and addiction share a lot of the same symptoms, it’s often difficult to determine which came first. This is especially true when someone abuses a substance for a prolonged period of time, causing changes in their brains and “genetic vulnerabilities.”
Quitting “cold turkey” can be fatal
Even if someone has the willpower to give up a substance cold turkey, the withdrawal can literally kill them. Opiates are the most common to cause such severe symptoms when given up all at once. The symptoms start with flu-like symptoms, including fever, sweating, achy muscles, diarrhea, and vomiting. The sudden and extreme loss of fluids is usually what results in death. They become dehydrated, their sodium levels skyrocket, and they could die of heart failure. Death from alcohol withdrawal is much less common, but it’s certainly possible. However, the person in this situation is more likely to die from seizure-related choking or other incidents than dehydration.
Supervised withdrawal is crucial
This is why it’s so important to seek supervision for recovery. The rehab centers in Toronto are able to monitor this recovery, helping patients stay in tune with their mental and physical health. During supervised recovery, the patient will be allowed a period to detox with 24-hour medical care. Professional staff members will take their vitals and keep an eye on their symptoms to keep them out of danger. Patients will also sometimes be given withdrawal medication to ease them into it, depending on the substance they abused. Additionally, they are provided with counseling services that usually include both individual and group sessions. And once they’ve completed the program, they are equipped with the tools that will better relieve the pressures of long-term recovery.