What is addiction?
Addiction is a disease which affects approximately one in ten people. It centres in the mind and affects the physical body. Whilst the most obvious aspect of addiction is the harmful usage of the drug of choice – marijuana, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, speed, ecstasy, heroin, methadone, crystal meth, hallucinogens, benzodiazepines and other prescription medication etc – it is the underlying thinking which needs the most intensive treatment to break the cycle of addiction.
The physical aspect of addiction manifests itself as the body adapts to the drug and becomes dependent upon it. This is most apparent with certain prescription medications and heroin, for which a medically managed detoxification programme is often the most appropriate way of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms. All drugs, however, when used to an addictive level, are likely to have had a negative effect on the physical body. All Trust The Process clients see our doctor on arrival to be assessed, and to be prescribed a detoxification regime if required.
The mental aspect of addiction is the obsessive and compulsive thinking surrounding drug usage. Even when the individual is not actually using drugs, they can have overwhelming cravings to do so. This is what compels the addicted person to get drugs, often putting themselves at risk in the process. This thinking manifests itself as a kind of tunnel vision – blocking out, or at the very least overriding, any rational thoughts of why they should not use. Even in the face of extreme negative consequences, it is this Obsessional thinking which drives the addict to continue their quest for more drugs.
Why else does an individual use drugs when all evidence shows that it is causing them great harm? One of the reasons is that life without drugs, in the absence of a recovery programme, can be extremely painful – the addict feels compelled to use, despite the problems it is causing in their life. Their thinking can be so distorted that they believe that drugs are providing them with some relief from life’s difficulties – it is life that is the problem for them, not drugs. Deep down, however, most addicts know that the drugs are destroying them and making life even harder to deal with.
Recovering from addiction
The thought of stopping using drugs can be terrifying to people who depend on them. People ask us: ‘what will I do if I can’t take drugs?’ At ADUS Healthcare, we help people to manage their fears by introducing them to the world-renowned 12 step recovery program, which provides a genuine alternative to using mood-altering drugs. Addicts can be extremely sensitive people – it is this emotional sensitivity which needs to be managed in order to maintain abstinence from drugs in the medium to long term.
One of the most powerful factors about coming into treatment for addiction is that you are not alone anymore. Many addicts try to hide their illness from family, friends and colleagues for years, fearing what will happen if people find out. This can lead to emotional and sometimes physical isolation from people, which is soul-destroying.
Through recovery, facets of addiction can actually be turned to the individual’s advantage. Addicts can be incredibly resourceful people, for example – so if these skills are turned to better use, then they can achieve great things. The connection between creativity and addiction is well-documented – there are many painters, writers, musicians and actors who have been affected by addiction. The 12 step programme helps people on a daily basis to assess the healthy and unhealthy ways they are using their energy – enabling them to identify positive and negative behaviour patterns. Addicts who have long term recovery often describe how recovery just gets better and better, as deeper realisations are made about themselves and about how to live their life. Ambitions are realised in recovery. Relationships are restored and new friendships are built. Life does not seem so frightening anymore.
If you are suffering with addiction, and if you want to change, then making a commitment to your recovery is the first step. If you really want to stop, then coming into treatment will give you a fantastic opportunity to experience the first phase of your recovery with other people going through the same thing as you. Strong bonds are formed in treatment with peers. Professionally trained counsellors, who have multiple years of addiction recovery, know what you are going through and can help you to break the grip of active addiction.