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5 Common Reasons to Seek Treatment When Abusing Drugs

According to the SAMHSA’s 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer, ”About 8 in 10 individuals (79.9%) with illicit drug dependence or abuse did not perceive a need for treatment for their illicit drug use.”  No one sets out to become dependent or addicted to the drugs they use and nearly everyone feels they are in control of their usage to some degree or another.  But, when the drudgery of having to use to avoid adverse symptoms of withdrawal or the inability to feel good without using begins, most people think about quitting.

Common Reasons for Seeking Treatment

Unfortunately, even for the most severely addicted, treatment is generally left out of the equation for what they feel they need until their lives are disrupted in some dreadful way.  What typically prompts most individuals to begin thinking about making changes and seeking treatment when abusing drugs often involves:

  • Episodes of distress such as severe anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, uncontrollable anger, mood swings, involvements in dangerous activities and other vulnerabilities, or the inability to take care of basic survival needs
  • Critical life events such as an emergency, overdosing, severe illness, assault, loss of a loved one, becoming pregnant, being fired, or being arrested
  • Cognitive evaluation or appraisal (weighing the pros and cons of continuing to use or the recognition that unsuccessful attempts to quit require help)
  • Recognizing negative consequences and the harm to self or others
  • Negative or positive external incentives such as threats of unwanted circumstances or the coercions from spouses/family or courts and/or the support or rewards expected by entering treatment

The Progress of Addiction

Reasons to Seek Treatment

People will often seek treatment once they realize how substance abuse is negatively affecting their relationships.

Most drug abusers have no idea of the changes that are going on in their brains and bodies that causes them to adapt their physical feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors around drug abuse reinforcement. It’s actually pretty simple how these problems occur.  People use drugs to feel good and with every boost, the brain uses natural mechanisms to accommodate neurotransmitter imbalances and reinforce the rewarding behavior.  Repeat exposures cause significant functional or structural changes that worsen over time.

Evidence shows that there is a shift in underlying motivational mechanisms toward addictive progressions in drug abusers that ranges from an impulsive stage of using drugs for pleasure and the rewards of cravings to the compulsive stage of uncontrollable use to find relief.  According to the Scripps Research Institute “From initial, positively reinforcing, pleasurable drug effects, the addictive process progresses over time to being maintained by negatively reinforcing relief from a negative emotional state.”  The most common of these conditions is the impending dread of withdrawals and the anxiety and cravings that come with it.

Why Treatment is Important

While our brains can heal or adjust as it continuously grows, there needs to be some guidance in treatment therapies for drug abusers to help them retrain pathways and systems of the brain by making positive and healthy lifestyle choices without the interference of drugs.  According to the Institute of Medicine (US) “ drug-reinforced behaviors are influenced by multiple factors including the pharmacological properties of a drug and its specific neuronal receptors and effecter systems, the learned behaviors and cognitions established during repeated episodes of drug use, and the environmental cues that accompany drug-seeking and drug-taking.”

Some people can go on using intermittently for years before they suffer a crisis that brings them to a reason for seeking treatment.  With anxiety, ambivalence, and an overall sense of hopelessness to change most never get the adequate help they need.   Habitual behaviors and maladaptive thought patterns that lead to them can be changed with the appropriate counseling, therapies, and supportive services that treatment provides.

What Can Substance Abuse Treatment Do For You?

How Treatment Helps

Seeing addiction for what it is as a disease has advanced the methods in which treatment is delivered and the confrontational approaches of the past have been replaced.  Regardless of the nature of their conditions, individuals can find compassionate, effective, and life-changing services in drug abuse treatment programs that are continuously evolving in practices and in line with main stream health care services.  The SAMHSA has a clear message for that.  “Recovery emerges from hope.” Hope that things can be better and hope to live a happy and meaningful life.  Don’t let the abuse of drugs take that away from you.

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