The growing use of drugs and alcohol is paralyzing a significant chunk of the society. The continuous abuse of substances is putting people’s health, career and well-being at stake; while its ominous dangers are not just limited to individuals alone, but their families also get affected in many ways.
If you are addicted to drugs and alcohol, you are severely altering the functioning of your brain and the body. You are essentially choosing to change the balance of chemicals that help your brain to think, feel, create and make decisions. Sooner or later, addiction of these substances causes serious mental illnesses, or makes an existing problem worse, thereby making recovery much harder to achieve.
Substance addiction is a complex state of mind – just like an illness is. It is characterized by uncontrollable cravings for drugs or alcohol that persist in the face of grave consequences. Some people use substances in a hope that the latter will make them feel better, but the truth is far from what they believe. Substance abuse makes you agitated, flat, unmotivated and moody. Your sense of reality can be affected too.
How Drugs and Alcohol Affect Your Mental Health
The functions of brain are the most complex of all other body organs. Whatever processes your whole body organs perform, they are regulated and coordinated by the brain via a communication system in which neurons play a vital role in sending messages arising from different areas within your brain. Now when you take drugs, they interfere with the way neurons normally send, receive, and process information. Different types of drugs affect different parts of your brain, which gives you momentary pleasure. In the hind side, however, the negative effects can be permanent. Some of these effects include impaired learning and cognitive function, memory loss, lack of self-control, among others.
Similar to drugs, alcohol also interferes with your brain’s communication network. While it initially make you feel energized, happy and stress-free, but the long-term abuse of alcohol leads to drastic impacts on the nervous system. The health effects of alcohol include liver damage, cancer, cognitive impairment, memory loss, psychosis, anxiety, and depression. There are numerous causes of alcoholism such as genetics, psychological and social factors. While genetics only increase the risk of being alcoholic, but it doesn’t have to shape a person’s destiny.
There is a direct co-relation between drug/alcohol abuse and mental illnesses, that is, substance abuse and mental illness can lead to one another. In other words, substance abuse can trigger anxiety and depression, while having a mental illness can lead to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a mental state that causes feelings of intense sadness accompanied by the loss of interest in activities a person used to enjoy. If left untreated, depression can lead to severe problems in one’s personal life, relationships, work, or school. Anxiety, on the other hand, characterized by intense, excessive and persistent worry as well as fears a person experiences in everyday situations.
Drugs and alcohol addiction can also exacerbate stress in your life. If you are abusing substances as a way of dealing with prevalent stress, it could actually be counter-productive for you. Even though you will feel relaxed initially, but when the effect passes, the same stress surfaces again, leading you to crave for substances again, thus initiating a vicious cycle.
How to Recover From Drug and Alcohol Abuse
If you are addicted to substance abuse and finding it hard to cope with its effects, then a question must sometimes crosses your mind, “will I ever feel normal again?” The answer is resounding “yes”; however, there are certain factors that determine the rate at which your body and mind heals. You will definitely recover but on one can say how soon.
Here are the treatment options:
- Inpatient Treatment: The inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program is generally incorporated when you have a serious addiction or you don’t have a strong support system at home. Since you are under a constant monitoring, this treatment facility increases your chances of completing the program successfully.
- Outpatient Treatment: The outpatient drug/alcohol treatment program is generally less expensive than inpatient as you are required to get treatment during the day time. The major focus is relapse prevention and its lasts less than 90 days.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is extremely effective in treating substance abuse issues by helping you to manage your patterns that may lead to other destructive behaviors. With the help of CBT, you discover how to identify triggers that cause you to use drugs, learning to better respond to them without turning to substance abuse.
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): Using MET approach of drug abuse treatment, a therapist helps you tap into your personal motivations to resist drug abuse. As a matter of fact, those who participated in MET experienced reduced rates of drug use, fewer arrests, and increased compliance with treatment.