Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention & Treatment

For some people, drug and alcohol use is not merely an occasional or recreational indulgence. Rather, frequent use eventually may lead to abuse. Abuse prevention depends on each individual's life situation. The only way some people can avoid abuse is to never use in the first place. Others may avoid abuse by having a sense of limits, including staying away from especially harmful drugs such as cocaine or heroin. If you or a loved one suffers from drug or alcohol abuse, you should consider treatment.

Gaining Knowledge

According to the United States Justice Department, a 2006 nationwide survey indicated that 112 million Americans acknowledged drug use, with 15 percent saying they had used in the past year. The numbers for alcohol use are even higher, with nearly two-thirds of high seniors alone saying they used alcohol in the past year.

To protect you or your loved ones from abuse and addiction, it is important to acknowledge the realities of drugs and alcohol. Not all drugs are the same, both in terms of legal standing and health effects. As you educate yourself, your child or any other loved one about the reality of drugs and alcohol, do not resort to scare tactics. Such techniques may alienate instead of educate and actually drive your loved ones to use or abuse.

Know the chemical properties and hazards of drugs. Certain drugs such as cocaine and nicotine have chemical properties that cause people to become physically addicted faster. If one has a physical need for a substance, he may build up a tolerance to the substance's effects. In turn, he may begin to abuse a substance to continue to get the desired results. Knowledge that people are more likely to abuse certain drugs will help people evaluate the necessary risks and lead to better overall judgment.

Providing Support Networks

People abuse drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. Some like the way drugs and alcohol make them feel, while others rely on them as an escape. A lack of support networks such as a stable home life or extracurricular activities will lead some people to use and abuse drugs. While many people who come from loving homes still abuse and several others with tough school or family lifes abstain from drug use, ensuring that you and your loved ones have safe and meaningful support networks will only improve the prospects. For people who turn to drugs because they feel hopeless or misunderstood, a stable support network or outlet may convince them otherwise.

Warning Signs

Drug or alcohol use alone does not equal abuse. Abuse occurs when a person's use interferes with her life and/or health. Common warning signs include apathy, forgetfulness, missed deadlines, irritability and an inability to accomplish certain tasks otherwise typically done. While it is possible to suffer from some of these symptoms due to non-drug or alcohol related conditions or situations, the symptoms at least should warrant a watchful eye and further investigation and if necessary proper treatment.

Treatment: Therapy and Support Options

Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol benefit from support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Support groups help people realize that they are not alone in their struggle to overcome abuse and addiction, especially the support groups that provide people with sponsors who have remained clean and sober for long periods of time.

Many users benefit from group and/or individual therapy. Psychiatrists and therapists will try to help people get to the root of why they use and abuse illicit substances. Sometimes people undergo therapy at a therapist's office, and other times therapy is a component of a rehabilitation center's overall treatment plan.

Treatment: Medication Options

Therapists may use medicine to treat some of the underlying mental issues that lead a patient to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. For instance, people with bipolar disorder may use as a way to self-medicate. Thus, regimented bipolar medication may eliminate the desire to use illicit substances. Since many people abuse prescription medication, good therapists will prescribe medication prudently.

Certain drugs like heroin produce such serious withdrawal effects when a person stops use that doctors administer substitute drugs (e.g. methadone in the case of heroin) to wean a person's body off the immediate physiological impact of the body's cravings. Detoxification such as this is usually the first treatment step, followed by therapy and clinical sessions.

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