Drug or alcohol addiction can be a hard concept to understand for many. Some wonder why drug addicts can’t quit on their own. Many drug addicts actually feel this way themselves. They feel that they can quit on their own — that they have complete control and power over their addiction, but overcoming an addition often requires professional help.
Commonly abused drugs
There are a wide range of legal, illegal and prescription medications that someone can become addicted to.
Tobacco and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs. Tobacco contains nicotine, a stimulant that has an effect on the brain that can become addictive. To successfully quit smoking often requires multiple attempts. While counseling or medication by themselves increase the chances of successfully overcoming an addition to nicotine, the combination of both is even more effective.
Alcohol is toxic to the body and can damage the liver. Drinking alcohol in excess or even socially can alter one’s perception and place others at risk. Approximately 8.1 million Americans suffer from alcoholism and a total of 13.8 million in the U.S. are dealing with some level of a drinking problem.
Aside from tobacco and alcohol, many individuals abuse illegal drugs. There are a variety of illegal drugs and each one has different effects on the body. Illegal drugs, such as such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines, are very addictive substances and can lead to death.
In recent years, prescription drug painkillers, such as Xanax, Percocet, OxyContin, Vicodin have become commonly abused as well. Users either go to different doctors to obtain prescriptions or steal them from family members who take them for existing or previous conditions.
Abuse versus addiction and dependence
Substance abuse and dependence are different by definition and action. An individual with a substance abuse problem presents one of the following, within a twelve-month period:
Failure to meet their daily obligations
Engaging in reckless activity (e.g. drunk driving)
Encountering legal troubles (e.g. getting arrested)
Continues to use a substance regardless of personal problems (e.g. fighting with family members)
Addiction is a chronic but treatable brain disorder in which people lose the ability to control their need for alcohol or drugs. Addicts exceed self-imposed limits, take drugs even when their health is deteriorating and spend a lot of time using or trying to obtain drugs.
Drug dependence is more severe and quitting needs to be coordinated with the help of qualified professionals. Abruptly stopping can lead to physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, which can include: anxiety, depression, headaches, racing heart, difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea and vomiting, depending on the drug and the addict.
Reach out and seek help
It is never too late to speak to your loved ones about addiction and its consequences.
“We value and understand the urgency that these addictions pose to an individual,” says Dr. Ira Frankel, administrator for Psychiatry and Addiction Services at Flushing Hospital. “Our Chemical Dependency Unit, therefore, offers a wide variety of services to treat people with substance problems.”
Lisa John, R.N., clinical manager for the in-patient psychiatry division at Flushing Hospital Medical Center adds, “drug or alcohol abuse is hard to discuss since there is a stigma of it being a condition. Many people do not want to come forward about these health issues or discuss them with their own family doctors.”
The Reflections Center Flushing Hospital’s especially dedicated outpatient substance abuse clinic is comprised of highly trained staff members who provide expert care. If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse, please feel free to contact Flushing Hospital’s Reflections out-patient clinic at (718) 670-5078.
For those who require inpatient assistance, Flushing Hospital also operates a voluntary inpatient chemical dependency unit (CDU). For more information about Flushing Hospital’s CDU, call (718) 670-4542.