What Role Does Rehab Play in Treating Addiction & Substance Abuse?
In order to regain your sobriety, you need medical help from healthcare professionals and addiction experts.
Rehab’s Role in Treating Addiction, What is the Main Cause of Addiction?, What Are the Three Main Factors That Influence Addiction?, What is Dopamine’s Role in Addiction?, What is the Role of Heredity in Addiction?, Is Addiction an Abnormal Behavior?, What Are Some Examples of Addictive Behaviors?, Rehab is Your Best Chance
Addiction is a chronic disease that is characterized by compulsive drug abuse. The addicted individual cannot control their drug intake even though they are already suffering from its adverse effects.
For a lot of people, the decision to start taking drugs is voluntary. However, as substance abuse continues, the drugs alter the brain and make it difficult for the person to quit. These changes within the brain can be persistent. This is why recovery is not just a matter of willpower.
In order to regain your sobriety, you need medical help from healthcare professionals and addiction experts. Today we are going to be talking about rehab and its role in treating addiction and substance abuse.
We will also go into some of the most common causes of addiction, including the risk factors that make people more likely to abuse illicit substances.
Rehab’s Role in Treating Addiction
Rehab sometimes gets a bad reputation because high profile actors, singers, athletes, and politicians check into them only to relapse later on. But what most people don’t realize is that relapse is a common experience for most individuals in recovery. In fact, it is considered a normal part of the addiction treatment journey. It doesn’t mean the programs are any less effective.
There is also the impression that rehab is only for the rich and famous. People only hear about rehab programs when a celebrity enters one, and it typically involves ocean views and a spa-like setup. But not all rehab facilities are luxury rehab facilities. There are affordable options available for everyone. A lot of treatment centers even offer a sliding fee scale to accommodate more patients.
Do not let these myths and misconceptions distract you from the importance of proper addiction treatment. Rehab isn’t just for celebrities. It is the safest and most effective way to treat addiction.
Rehab facilities may offer different programs and have different ways of approaching recovery, but the rehab process is largely the same. Addiction treatment involves intake, diagnosis, detoxification, cognitive therapy, and aftercare. Take note that some facilities may only offer detox, while others may specialize in therapy. But the best facilities offer both.
The first step of a complete rehab process is a comprehensive evaluation also known as intake. This is crucial to the development of a customized care plan that suits the individual’s specific needs. The most effective programs are always personalized because addiction has different effects on people. Everyone has different circumstances, which is why there is no standard program for addiction treatment. There is no one size fits all solution. The treatment approach should take the person’s condition and situation into consideration.
For example, if the patient has any co-occurring medical health problems, this will be discussed during intake. This will ensure that they can receive the appropriate level of support. Dual diagnosis is common and it typically applies to people with addiction and mental health disorders. Both of these problems need to be addressed properly.
After the intake process, the addicted individual goes through medical detox. The goal of detox is to remove the drug from the body and eliminate dependence. It is not advisable for a person to quit without medical assistance because withdrawal can be dangerous. Even during rehab, withdrawal can be uncomfortable—but it’s better to have medical experts on standby as you go through this difficult step in the process.
Cognitive behavioral therapy deals with the emotional effects of addiction. It also goes into the causes of addictive behavior. This is where most facilities will differ. Some may offer family therapy, while others may go with individual therapy, group therapy, etc. There are also rehab facilities that offer more unorthodox treatment modalities like music therapy, dance therapy, art therapy, hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation, and equine therapy—usually in combination with more traditional treatment programs.
Rehab teaches recovering individuals how to maintain their sobriety using healthy coping mechanisms. They can develop healthier habits so they can stay away from drugs and alcohol even when they are out there in the real world. They will also process the emotional issues and problems that contributed to their substance abuse in the first place.
Finally, aftercare provides continuous support even after the person leaves the rehab facility. This is crucial for maintaining long term sobriety. Addiction recovery is a lifelong process, and so the person needs to continue their healing journey even outside of rehab.
Aftercare involves occasional therapy sessions post-rehab, both individually and as part of a group. Over time, the therapy sessions become less frequent as the person learns to maintain their sobriety on their own.
A lot of rehab facilities offer their own aftercare programs, while others will recommend a nearby facility that has it. Some recovering individuals also choose to join support groups to build a sense of community with others who have gone through similar problems.
The journey towards sobriety is not going to be easy. Relapse can happen even after long periods of sobriety. The patient needs to continuously work on staying sober, but with the help of rehab they will be better equipped to do so even on their own.
Long lasting recovery requires hard work and commitment. But if you know what to expect, things are a lot easier to manage.
What is the Main Cause of Addiction?
There is actually no main cause of addiction. This is a complex condition that can have multiple causes. But experts agree that addiction has both a genetic and environmental component. Addiction also has a behavioral component that makes it similar to other chronic illnesses such as high cholesterol and diabetes. Just like other chronic conditions, there is no particular “cure” for addiction, but it can be managed. An addicted individual can still regain their sobriety and live a healthy and fulfilling life.
There is no one factor that can predict whether or not a person will eventually become addicted to drugs. But there are so called risk factors and protective factors that can increase or decrease a person’s risk of developing an addiction later in life. The more risk factors a person is exposed to, the more likely it is that they will abuse a certain substance. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will, but they are more likely to do so compared to someone with no exposure to those risk factors.
Similarly, a person with multiple protective factors will be less likely to experiment with dangerous substances because they have no reason to.
What Are the Three Main Factors That Influence Addiction?
Genetics, environment, and behavior are three of the main factors that influence addiction. All of the risk factors and protective factors have a connection to these three main things.
Genetics plays a big role in the development of addiction. Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. In fact, this accounts for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. For example, those who have family members who have been addicted in the past are more likely to become addicted. Addiction is hereditary, and we will explore this further later on.
A person’s environment also plays a major role in the development of addiction. Even when someone is genetically predisposed to addiction, they may not begin abusing illicit substances if they are not influenced by their environment. There are many influences in a person’s life: their family, their friends, their community, their country, the economy, and the general quality of life.
Experiences and trauma can also push a person towards substance abuse, which eventually develops into something more dangerous.
Finally, a person’s behavior influences addiction. This includes the choices they make and the way they react to their environment. Their ability to manage stress and handle difficult situations may affect their attitude towards drugs and alcohol.
It is possible to take drugs and develop addiction at any age. But early use of these substances is riskier and exposes the person to a greater risk of developing an addiction. Early exposure to addictive substances is considered a risk factor. Other risk factors include peer pressure, poverty, difficult family situations, mental health disorders, and history of addiction.
Protective factors include a strong social support system, strong family bonds, and a supportive home environment.
What is Dopamine’s Role in Addiction?
Most people are aware of how drugs can affect the brain, particularly the “reward system”. Drugs can cause euphoria by flooding the brain with dopamine, which is sometimes referred to as the “pleasure chemical”. But what is dopamine and what role does it play in addiction?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is strongly linked with mood, particularly pleasure. Dopamine activates the brain’s reward circuit, which makes the person feel good and motivates them to keep doing the activity that created that sensation. Drugs tend to flood the brain with dopamine, and that’s part of the reason why they are so addictive. These dopamine surges convince the brain to pursue unhealthy but pleasurable habits, such as taking drugs.
Dopamine does play an important role in our survival. It encourages the body to do activities that are helpful such as exercise and eating calorie-rich food. But a dopamine rush from drug abuse can reinforce unhealthy choices and lead to addiction.
With all that out of the way, there are certain myths about dopamine that people should know about. It is not dopamine per se that causes addiction.
For example, getting addicted to dopamine is a myth. Dopamine itself is not addictive as it only activates the brain’s reward center. It is the experiences and pleasant sensations that make a person addicted. Instead, dopamine can be considered as a motivator. Dopamine is not the sole cause of addiction, but rather a motivational factor. When you are exposed to positive sensations, the brain tries to figure out what caused it, and will then begin to seek it out to replicate the experience.
The process of having dopamine released into the brain does not always involve harmful activities or substances. So it’s not actually dopamine that is addictive, but rather the substances.
Even the common nickname associated with dopamine—“pleasure chemical”—isn’t entirely accurate. Dopamine is not directly responsible for the euphoric sensations experienced by the person. It only contributes to the experience, but it does not create these pleasurable feelings, at least according to experts. Dopamine’s job is to reinforce the enjoyable sensations by linking the experience with the desire to do them again.
There are other neurotransmitters at play here such as serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.
What we do know is that dopamine plays a role in building tolerance to certain drugs. Tolerance is when a person starts to take more of a certain drug just to feel the same effects. They stop feeling the effects of the drug to the same degree that they used to, although they are taking the same amount. This leads to taking larger doses or taking the drug more frequently.
Dopamine plays a role in this process because consistent drug misuse leads to overstimulation of the reward center. The brain may decrease dopamine production or reduce dopamine receptors, but either way, the person will continue craving for the drug.
Remember that there is no single cause of addiction—not even dopamine can be pinpointed as the sole cause of it.
What is the Role of Heredity in Addiction?
We’ve talked about the factors that cause addiction, and genetics is one of them. In fact addiction shares a lot of features with other chronic illnesses—and that includes heritability. Heritability means that it can run in the family. Scientists are now looking into the role that genes play when it comes to making a person more vulnerable to drug addiction. They are also studying if genes can protect a person against it.
According to scientists, genetic factors account for up to 60 percent of an individual’s vulnerability to addiction.
That said, biology and heredity are only one part of the equation. A person’s environment, their living conditions, their relationships, and their personal behavior influences their chances of developing addiction.
Is Addiction an Abnormal Behavior?
As a chronic disorder that has biological, psychological, social, and environmental foundations, addiction can actually be classified as abnormal behavior. Addiction is characterized by compulsive action despite negative consequences.
Abnormal psychology is not about making people fit into a narrow definition of “normalcy”. It is more concerned about dealing with issues that may be causing trauma or distress in a person’s life. It is not about judging people who are exhibiting abnormal behavior. Rather, it seeks to identify this type of behavior to properly assist them and give the support they need. In this case, addicted individuals need help from healthcare providers in rehab.
By defining what “unusual” behavior looks like, therapists and researchers can offer ways to help individuals deal with such conditions.
What Are Some Examples of Addictive Behaviors?
The best way to help a loved one who you think may be abusing a substance is to recognize addictive behaviors and identify the problem as soon as possible. If you don’t look out for the warning signs, their condition may develop from substance abuse to tolerance, to dependence, and eventually, to addiction.
Here are some of the most problematic behaviors that people with addiction exhibit. These warning signs may help you identify a problem.
First, an addictive individual may struggle with impulse control. They may take drugs or drink during the day or do so when they are all alone. As soon as they feel that craving, they will go for it. It’s hard to control their actions and they are unable to fight off those temptations. Even at the early stages, they will struggle to quit their chosen substance. In fact, since they don’t believe that there is a problem, they will just keep abusing the substance over and over.
Denial is very common among those with substance use problems. This is one of the biggest hurdles that are keeping people from getting the treatment that they need. They don’t see the problem—or they don’t want to admit to themselves that their substance use has gone too far.
Maybe they are productive and successful and that leads them to think their substance abuse isn’t a serious problem. If their life hasn’t fallen apart, then they are surely not in a bad position. But this is a common misconception. There are high functioning alcoholics and drug users who use their productivity to mask the fact that their substance abuse is out of control.
Regardless of how productive they are, if they lack impulse control and they often feel cravings for their chosen substance, they are most likely addicted.
Lying is another common behavior among those who are addicted. In an attempt to hide their addictive tendencies, they will lie to their friends and family members—and they will do it often. They will lie to their colleagues, bosses, and romantic partners. In the process, their relationships will suffer.
Addicted individuals typically lie about where they are going, what they are doing, and whether or not they are using. The stress of lying only motivates them further to keep their mind off their problems using drugs or alcohol.
Stealing is another bad habit they may develop. They may steal jewelry, electronics, gadgets, hardware, and money. Sometimes they will do so to support their addiction. People with addiction may struggle financially. They may prioritize the drug over everything else, neglecting their responsibilities in the process. They may spend a lot of money on the drug just to keep their habit going. At some point, it’s no longer a habit but dependence—they cannot feel normal without the drug.
Generally speaking, the addicted individual will start obsessing over the substance. They will spend most of their time thinking about drugs or alcohol and how to obtain it. Once their mind is set on something, focusing on anything else is difficult. That’s why addiction can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
In a rehab facility, they can receive the help that they need. They will learn proper coping methods that will allow them to live a sober life. But they can’t do it unless they admit that there’s a problem and that they need help. Recognizing these warning signs will allow you to reach out to them and hopefully convince them to seek proper medical care.
Rehab plays an important role in treating addiction because it allows people to recover properly in a safe and focused environment. Look for an addiction treatment facility near you today and find out about the programs that they offer.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.