Drug and Alcohol Addiction
If you’re suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, it can seem like you’re in a hopeless situation. It’s common for an addict to have feelings of guilt, shame and regret due to what they have done in their addiction, but it’s important that you remember you’re a sick person. Addicts aren’t bad people. They just suffer from an overwhelming craving and dependence to their substance of choice.
How People Become Addicted
Through years of studies and addiction treatment, doctors have discovered that addicts actually suffer from a mental illness that is progressive. The pleasure system in the brain is a necessity for basic human survival skills, but an addict’s brain overflows the system with dopamine, which allows the pleasure system to be unrestrained. Once an addict takes the first drink or drug, they are no longer in control of the situation.
This can happen for a variety of different reasons, but they all come down to different risk factors. Some addicts are genetically predisposed to the disease and others may have another mental illness. The most common reason for using is when someone suffers from a mental illness like anxiety, depression or a mood disorder, so they use mind-altering substances in order to feel normal.
Another possibility is that someone suffers from a mental illness that has been diagnoses, but they become addicted to the medications they are given. Pain medications like OxyContin, Lortabs, Xanax and Valium can become highly addictive when they are used for extended periods of time.
Treating a Dual Diagnosis
A dual diagnosis is when a person suffers from both the disease of addiction as well as another mental illness. Having an undiagnosed mental illness is not only the leading cause for someone becoming addicted, but it is also the main reason why people relapse. An addict may receive some great treatment and maintain some sobriety, but when their mental illness isn’t addressed they are more than likely going to use alcohol or drugs again.
When you enter a rehab center, it’s important to know if they are able to treat mental illnesses as well. It’s possible that your substance abuse was the reason you were feeling symptoms of mental illness, but the only way to be sure is by working with a professional who understands the disease of addiction. They will help you learn how to manage your mental illness or provide you with non-narcotic medications that can help.