Hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people in the world are struggling with substance misuse disorders and addictions. It is truly tragic, and something we need to shine a light on – especially in the United States. The so-called War on Drugs has been ongoing for years and it’s time to take bigger action.
Unfortunately, if we are suffering from an addiction, it can be very hard to realize it. On that note, getting treatment can be even harder. There is stigma surrounding it, for one thing. Unfortunately, this only seems to be getting worse in a time where compassion and understanding should be most important.
Making the Choice to Get Help
The science of addiction is complicated. Understanding it, though, can help us understand how truly insidious that substance misuse disorder can be. We might not realize it, but the way that drugs affect our brain can be incredibly intense. You can read more about that here: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain.
It’s important to keep in mind that our brains are complex organs. The way they work is complicated and reliant on many natural systems that can be easily disrupted. Sometimes, the chemical imbalances can even come internally (which can cause mental illnesses such as general anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder). Just think about how an external substance could impact it.
What drugs do is interfere with how our brains receive, send, and process neurons. They do this in a variety of ways depending on what the drug is. Some of them like heroin or marijuana will actually activate some neurons because they imitate the naturally occurring chemicals in our brains. This leads to signals being transmitted that are not normal and shouldn’t occur.
Others like cocaine simply flood the brain with a large amount of those naturally present neurotransmitters. This means that it can’t process that excess. It thus amplifies the communication between neurons and can even disrupt it.
What is particularly dangerous here is that most substances like this interact with our basal ganglia. This is the part of our minds that sets up a “reward circuit” as it is part of our emotions and socializing patterns. Drugs will often form one of those reward circuits when you take them, and that is part of how an addiction starts.
They also interact with our amygdala and our prefrontal cortex. The former is largely what causes withdrawal symptoms, as it is the part of the brain that deals with negative feelings such as irritation or anxiety. The latter is what creates our ability to think, and to problem solve.
All of this works in tandem to create an environment where it is difficult to acknowledge that we have a problem. Especially because of the euphoria (usually known as “high”) that comes from consuming these substances. Admitting that we are addicted can be quite painful. That’s part of why so few people end up looking for treatment.
Taking these next steps is critical in a recovery journey. If you’re in Colorado, you might be wondering where to turn. Especially with the changes in the atmosphere in the state following the legalization of marijuana. It might feel like addiction can be minimalized, but I assure you it isn’t.
If you are choosing to go to a rehabilitation center, there are a lot of options out there. For example, you could look into Mountain Springs Recovery for recovery options. Wherever you decide, it is incredibly important to choose a facility. It can be dangerous to quit cold turkey on your own.
Withdrawal symptoms can be painful and dangerous. Whether the substance misuse disorder involves an illegal drug or drinking alcohol, it is not easy to quit. What you might experience in the aftermath is frightening, honestly. You might experience anything from anxiety and depression to visual or auditory hallucinations. It isn’t a good time to be alone.
What is Rehab?
I’ve talked about it a lot now, so let me define it for you. It is a medical process that involves promoting good mental and physical health while recovering from something that has negatively impacted them. It is often applied to drug and alcohol addiction, but physical rehabilitation after an accident is another form.
If you would like to read some more about rehabilitation services, you might want to check out this page: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/rehabilitation. Unfortunately, a lot of people face stigma for seeking out these vital services. In a lot of cases, they are medically necessary.
We should always try to remember that addiction is a disease. It has symptoms and can impact the lives not only of the user, but of their family and friends as well. It is important to be kind and compassionate to sufferers even if they require firm boundaries sometimes.
Is it Worth it?
This should not surprise you, but the answer is always yes. Ideally, your insurance company will help cover at least part of the costs. I recommend calling the center you are considering before committing to see if your insurance policy is accepted there.
Thankfully, there are also public options you can consider for payment. Medicare and Medicaid are just some options – there are also public assistance programs out there that can help. However you pay for it, it will be worth it.
Getting sober can truly change your life for the better. It not only improves your physical health, but also your mental health. It might even help you reconnect with your spirituality.
Once you are sober, you can start to rebuild the relationships you may have lost. After all, when we are experiencing a substance misuse disorder, we often have a lot of turmoil in our personal lives. It can result in fractured relationships that we can hopefully mend post recovery.
Treatment can help you return to where you were before a drug overtook your life. If you want to reclaim that part of yourself, consider it. In the end, you won’t regret it.