One of the most prevalent problems in modern society is drug misuse. If you or your loved one is abusing illicit drugs, finding suitable counselling and medical treatment is absolutely integral to beating the habit. Addiction is a complex problem, ordinarily caused by deep-seated issues with things like stress management or peer pressure, and if these issues aren’t addressed, the problem will persist. Finding out the basics about drug misuse helps you determine whether you or your loved one has a problem and the treatments you’re likely to need.
Most drugs of abuse produce their effects by mimicking the action of natural neurotransmitters, which are the brain’s chemical messengers. Dopamine is the most common neurotransmitter affected by drugs, and it is the brain’s primary reward chemical. It’s ordinarily released into the brain when the individual does something integral to existence like eating or having sex. By causing an abundance of the chemical, drugs create a sense of euphoria which is more intense than would occur naturally.
The brain doesn’t want to be overwhelmed, so if the substance is taken regularly it will begin to adapt. The natural production of dopamine will be reduced, and some of the receptors it activates will be withdrawn. This means that the individual needs more of the substance to achieve the same effects, and they’ll need a dose of the drug in order to feel “normal.” This is the point at which the individual is said to be addicted to drugs, where cravings will become harder and harder to resist. To tackle the issue, a therapist has to identify and address the underlying issues which originally led the individual to take drugs.
There are several reasons people turn to drug misuse, with the most common being stress management and depression. Individuals who become addicted to drugs often have an unhealthy picture of how to deal with psychological problems, and they use the short-term solution of the unnatural dopamine boost instead of tackling the real issue. It’s also possible that people start to take drugs because they’re surrounded by people who take drugs and appear to derive rewards from it. If these peers also put pressure on the individual to use, it often becomes a primary driving factor in the decision. Counsellors help the individual work through these problems and find new, healthier ways to deal with their issues.
The specific focus of the psychotherapy should be related to the factors which influence the individual to use. The therapist will work to identify the primary “triggers” (whether internal emotions or external circumstances) for the user to take drugs, and then teach them new coping mechanisms to help them get clean. For example, if stress is the primary driving force, the sessions will introduce healthier ways to deal with stress which don’t rely on chemicals. Counselling for drug misuse doesn’t have a pre-determined length, because the underlying issues may be related to traumatic experiences from childhood which can be difficult to confront.
Treatment for drug misuse might encompass more than therapy. Some drugs cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops taking them. These can make getting clean even more difficult, so medications are often offered to manage the symptoms and therefore reduce cravings. This isn’t required in all cases of addiction, but the option should be considered if withdrawal may be uncomfortable.
If you or your loved one is struggling with drug misuse, finding treatment from a qualified counsellor is absolutely essential. The problem will continue if the root causes aren’t addressed, and relapse is likely if the user doesn’t receive therapy. If you’re unsure of the best course of action, we can help you get the care you need. We’ll help you determine your requirements, and can answer any questions you have regarding treatment. Get in touch with us today for some, professional advice!
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