Drug addiction is a very real issue world over, with over 8.5% of adults in the UK having taken illicit drugs in the last year and the number of children who have taken drug having increased in the last 2 years, having an understanding of the causes and proliferation of drug addiction is key.
With drug misuse being a taboo subject for many years identifying addicts and supporting their recovery has presented significant challenges. Whether this is addiction to prescription or illicit drugs the issue is the same, due to the complex circumstances, from initial outset to continuation, of this addiction finding the correct treatment for each individual is problematic.
Causes of drug addiction
Drug addiction has been related to a lack of connection, relationships and bonds. Many of us, when faced with a loved one with an addiction tend to distance ourselves.
It is hard watching someone you care about destroy themselves and some people even try bargaining their bond with the addict to encourage them to stop, consider the programme Intervention on A&E. However, since a lack of connection and someone to turn to perpetuities the issue of addiction this can be very harmful.
Often the initial drug use occurs due to lack of connections, mental health issues or a medical need and then, it is then proliferated and exacerbated by the alteration of brain chemistry. Initially after taking the drug for a prolonged period, you develop a tolerance, causing the effect of the drug lessening and then the dose is increased in an attempt to achieve the same effect.
Recognising an addiction
The signs of addiction can be difficult to identify, especially as addicts will often try to hide their issues from friends and family or justify them to themselves, but some signs which suggest it is time to seek help are:
- Lying and making excuses to justify drug consumption – this is common among those who are addicted to prescription drugs, thy will often exaggerate the issues they are facing to ensure they are continually supplied with the drug they are craving. In some cases, those suffering from drug addiction may be in denial and so may believe their own justifications.
- Hiding drug paraphernalia.
- Changing in mental health, personality or general attitude – those suffering from drug addiction become wholly consumed with their addiction and often can withdraw from normal activities and responsibilities.
- Pursuit of drug consumption at a financial cost that is unsustainable.
- Abrupt weight changes.
- Changes in skin colour.
How can you help?
Christmas and January have been reported to be the loneliest times of year for many in the UK. Loneliness in this season is significantly amplified if you stand outside the social momentum associated with the festive season.
Although we all see a lot of friends and relatives over the Christmas period the connections and meaningful bonds are often lacking. This can be particularly challenging for individuals with a drug addiction, as this loneliness can feed the need to seek a connection and can lead to an increase in drug-use and potential for relapse in recovering addict. And so, if you or a loved one are suffering from a drug addiction here are some ways you can begin to tackle the challenge:
1. Reach out and re-build your connection
Whether you yourself or a loved one are suffering, reaching out and trying to connect, reigniting the bond, is the first step to recovering from addiction. Let those suffering know that you are there for them and want to help or ask someone for help, they will want to but probably don’t know how. One of the challenges to overcoming addiction is that the sufferer will often be in denial and so will be angry when confronted about their issue, they will try to avoid the subject and so it is important to be considerate of this when reaching out to someone with an addiction without enabling them. In order to begin seeking help and treatment, the addict needs to take ownership of their addiction in order to progress. Often, as addiction is a disease, it is easy to say the addict has no control over the situation and if that is the case, treatment is less effective, and relapse is more likely.
2. Encourage healthy habits
Similar to suffers of depression and anxiety, those suffering from drug addiction can undergo a decline in physical health and hygiene. Encouraging those suffering to tackle their other health issues and improve their hygiene can have a positive influence on self-esteem. Help them create a structured plan for hygiene tasks, this structure helps them maintain control and allows them to reach a better place to seek further assistance.
3. Do not focus on guilt or shame
The banning of drugs worldwide has made addiction a ‘bad behaviour’ and in many cases a criminal offence. We often, as a society, shame addicts, punish them and give them criminal records which only results in isolating them further – this does not help, in fact increases likelihood of relapse. Dr Gabor Maté commented on the current social approach to managing drug addiction that “If you wanted to design a system to make addiction worse you could design this system”. So rather than guilting of shaming those struggling with addiction, the focus should be on establishing relationships built around support. Although the sufferer may have deeply hurt you while you were only trying to offer them help, it is important to remember that they are suffering greatly and lashing out is likely them trying to deny the issue and hid it from themselves. Psychology Today reports that shame is in fact a barrier to overcoming addiction as it just promotes feelings of isolation.
There is a strong argument that there is a real need for a societal change with regard to how addictions are viewed, we should be striving for social recovery as well as individual recovery. There is a need to stop addicts from feeling alone, give them a support network and create a culture of connections, not isolation and loneliness.
If you, or a loved one are suffering from drug addiction, seek professional help. Get in touch with our experts here at Recovery Circle today for a confidential initial consultation. We will fully assess your condition; help create the right treatment plan for your circumstances and support you throughout your recover journey.