Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Drug and Alcohol Addiction is a Complex Illness
There’s nothing simple about it. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a complicated disease nearly every regard, from its causes to its effects, and even its treatment. Yet drug and alcohol addiction remain the two most prevalent forms of the disease, and both are at epidemic levels in the US.
What Causes Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by intense, uncontrollable cravings for those substances to which your body has become addicted. Addiction affects multiple centers in your brain, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behavior.
This is why addiction is commonly referred to as a brain disease. Some individuals are more vulnerable than others to becoming addicted, depending on the interplay between genetic makeup, age at which drug exposure occurs, and other environmental influences. While a person initially chooses to take drugs, over time the effects of prolonged exposure on brain functioning compromise that ability to choose, and seeking and consuming the drug become compulsive, often eluding a person’s self-control or willpower.
All too often, addicts continue to use drugs and alcohol despite their destructive effect upon their bodies, their careers, and their personal lives. It isn’t until some catastrophic event – an overdose, accident, arrest, or something else – that they will finally come to receive treatment for the disease. It’s not that individuals don’t recognize their addictions, or how the disease is causing havoc in their lives, rather it is that they are still driven by the same reasons that caused them to start using, and their dependency on drugs and alcohol has since deepened beyond their control.
As addiction spirals out of control, one’s social life, business, career, and personal health can be devastated, which can even cause further pain and addiction in the family members and loved ones affected by the dysfunction. Indeed, the children of addicts often grow to become addicts themselves.
But understanding the impact of addiction – just like understanding the physical and genetic reasons behind it – does not fully answer the question of what is causing the epidemic in drug and alcohol dependency. For that answer, we have to look into the addicted individual themselves. What causes them to begin using in the first place.
This is the approach taken at Next Chapter – treating the disease while also treating the underlying cause for each unique individual.
Stopping the Disease
Unfortunately, there is no cure for alcoholism and drug addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease and being able to a to abstain from using for a time does not eradicate the potential for an individual to relapse.
But this doesn’t mean treatment can’t be effective.
Next Chapter believes that treatment is most effective when it is comprehensive. That’s why we examine and treat the entire individual – mind, body, and spirit – as well as their families, exploring the root cause of the substance abuse itself. In doing so, we uncover unresolved personal trauma and the triggers that cause dysfunctional behavior, illuminating the client’s awareness of themselves and the circumstances that drive them. This illumination extends to the client’s family, helping to establish a stronger support system for their loved one once they leave treatment. We also encourage our clients to seek therapy or counseling on an ongoing basis, so that their addiction can be kept at bay indefinitely.
When to Seek Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction
If you exhibit any of the following behaviors, or even if you just suspect you are addicted or that your addiction is deepening, we emphatically encourage you to seek treatment immediately. Drug and alcohol addictions don’t just go away, and they only worsen over time.
- If you have difficulty stopping or controlling how much substance you consume
- If you find yourself spending a great deal of time thinking about or seeking substances
- If you feel the need to drink/use more to achieve the same effect
- If you feel sick to your stomach, sweaty, anxious or shaky after not drinking or using for a while
- If you give up other activities to allow for more time to drink or use
- If you continue to drink/use despite damaged relationships, health problems, or legal or financial troubles
- If you experience guilt or shame after drinking/using
- If you find yourself lying about, hiding, or making excuses for drinking/using
- If you resort to stealing or engaging in other shameful behavior in order to obtain drugs or alcohol
The Next Chapter Approach
Next Chapter takes a highly-personalized approach to treatment for all of our clients, beginning with a thorough psychosocial assessment completed by patient’s therapist and a psychiatric evaluation completed by our medical director. Later in the process we often will include a psychological assessment to aid in the diagnosis of the condition or conditions each client is facing. These initial evaluations are followed up by weekly visits with our medical director and patient’s therapist and supported by our clinical team approach in which each client’s unique needs and treatment are addressed by the entire treatment team. The team meets daily to discuss in detail each of our client’s needs.
Together, our clinical team will prescribe a course of action that may evidence-based treatments practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, EMDR and other Trauma focused modalities. Individualized treatment plans also include therapeutic groups, individual sessions, family work, and 12-Step education groups.