Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse every year, but only a small percentage of these people seek treatment. Sometimes, people fail to recognize that they have an issue, or they may feel shame and guilt stemming from their drug use. Over time, though, untreated drug misuse can lead to long-term mental and physical health problems, with hundreds of thousands of deaths from drug overdoses occurring in the past 20 years. No matter how long you’ve been using drugs or how bad your substance abuse problem has become, there is hope for recovery. Seeking treatment is a challenging but necessary first step.
Substance abuse happens when a person a hazardous or potentially harmful illicit drug, or uses prescription medication for recreational purposes. Though some drugs like alcohol can be used recreationally without their use becoming a problem, there is a fine line between recreational use and substance abuse. Sometimes, occasional use gets more and more frequent, and can even lead to addiction. Though substance abuse doesn’t interfere with a person’s life as much as addiction does, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Even casual drug use can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health.
It can be tough to recognize when your substance use has gotten out of hand, but if you find that you’re using drugs more than you’d like, or that you’re facing serious consequences in your finances, relationships, career, or personal life, you may have a substance abuse problem. Sometimes, substance abuse stems from issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, or physical pain. Luckily, there are many effective treatment options available that can help treat any underlying issues along with the substance abuse issue. Though you may be in a tough spot right now, in time, you can find healthier ways to cope with stress or boredom instead of turning to drugs and alcohol.
When a person repeatedly uses drugs or alcohol despite recognizing that they are harming their bodies, it can lead to some serious consequences. Those with substance abuse issues tend to put their drug use ahead of more important things like work, school, paying bills, and other important things. They may find themselves engaging in risky behavior or putting themselves in dangerous situations to obtain more of their drug of choice, and they may experience a strong desire to continue to use the drug. In addition, many of these drugs are illegal to possess, buy, and sell, which means that getting caught with them can lead to arrest or jail time.
Although some people can use an illicit substance without experiencing substance abuse issues, this isn’t the norm. Drugs like opiates, cocaine, and benzos are highly addictive, and many people who choose to use these drugs may have underlying physical or mental health conditions that they may be trying to find relief from. Sometimes, simply using a drug a few times can lead to an addiction. The man difference between substance abuse and addiction is that addiction is a disease that has serious negative, and sometimes tragic, effects on a person’s life. This is why it’s so important to seek help for substance abuse as soon as you recognize the signs.
Many people who use drugs believe that they can stop when they want to, but this thought is rarely based in reality. The truth is, getting off of drugs is difficult. It’s nearly impossible to do without the support of family, friends, and medical professionals. At the same time, substance abuse isn’t something to be ashamed of, and it isn’t a life sentence. You aren’t the only person facing a struggle, and there are so many people out there who want to help you get well. If you’re ready to make a positive change in your life, you’ve already made a step in the right direction!
Though working through your substance abuse is a scary prospect, there are many options available to help you overcome this problem. The best option for you will depend on your unique situation, including what substances you abuse and how long this has been a problem. Some treatment options are more intensive and require inpatient or residential care in a hospital or rehab center. Others simply involve outpatient therapy with a professional who has experience treating addiction. In addition, there are plenty of support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others to help you find support and take your life back.
When looking for the right treatment option, it’s important to be honest with yourself about how substance abuse has been affecting your life and the lives of the people who care about you. Think about why you started using drugs in the first place. Were you running away from problems in your life, looking to get rid of stress or anxiety, or simply seeking a thrill? There are better ways to remedy these issues than drugs, and part of treatment is finding ways to deal with personal problems, control your negative emotions, and stay away from harmful situations.
The first part of treatment involves stopping drug use altogether. It’s important to have support during this phase so there’s someone you can reach out to when you fear you might relapse. A substance abuse counselor is a great resource, as well as a support network filled with people who have first-hand experience going through what you are going through. Friends and family can also be an invaluable asset in the recovery process. Stay away from people you used drugs with and places where you used to use drugs, as these can sometimes trigger a relapse.
With the right help and treatment, you can overcome your substance abuse issue, but the first step is reaching out for help. Your options may seem overwhelming, but the truth is, there are likely friends, acquaintances, relatives, and coworkers who want to see you get better. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and encourage you throughout your treatment. You are strong and recovery is possible!