Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic mental illness, which impairs brain functioning. It is characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable addictive behaviors, which may result in severe health consequences. Substance addiction has biological, psychological, and social influences. While addiction’s origins vary in each person, the best treatment for lasting to care is to understand the root causes of addiction.
Approximately seventeen million people have experienced some form of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Problems that may be signs of the disorder are when a person drinks more than intended, drinks alone, gets frequent alcohol poisoning, or has problems with maintaining routines due to alcohol consumption. Physical symptoms of excessive alcohol addiction include, shaking, frequent nausea, tremors, seizures, changes in physical appearance, lapses in memory, and physical illnesses, like cirrhosis. For alcohol addiction, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R) states that, “a positive diagnosis of alcohol dependence requires the presence of at least three of nine symptoms of a core dependence syndrome.”
Based on the type of drug consumed, physical symptoms of drug addiction may vary. Frequently dilated or red eyes, hyperactivity, lethargy, nausea, sweating, tremors or shaking, change in physical appearance, visible marks on the skin, discoloration, itching, an inability to sit still, and hygiene decline may be indicative of drug abuse. Whether it is opiate, stimulant, or other form of drug, the inability to stop, despite health risks is a sign of addiction.
Causes of Addiction
While everyone has experienced conflicts and sadness in their lives, there are certain traumas that remain for a long time. Some of those traumatic occurrences can lead to addiction.
A major root cause of addiction is a history of child abuse. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and abandonment have strong correlations to substance addiction in adults. When abuse occurs, children or teens develop insecure attachments with their parents or guardians, which lead to problematic patterns in adulthood. Child abuse victims do not learn adequate social skills due to underdeveloped emotional health.
Children who have been victims of abuse will experience changes in parts of their brain. This is linked to a variety of mental health problems like depression, schizophrenia, and potential substance addiction in adulthood. One of the more damaging effects of abuse and trauma is that people turn to unhealthy coping methods, like drugs or alcohol. Suppressing pain is always easier than confronting feelings, thus explaining why so many people turn to drugs or alcohol.
The strong connection between trauma and substance addiction is undeniable. Past histories with abuse and trauma must be addressed at the same time as addiction. Receiving treatment for both illnesses is important to successfully treat addiction. But sobriety is possible. It is never too late to seek help and learn how to manage pain from the past.
While avoidance, repression, and trauma may be root causes of addiction, genetic links may also play a role. For instance, alcoholism is hereditary not only because of genetic links, but because of observed behavior. Living with a person with an addiction or mental illness can lead to an increased risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction.
People with strong histories of alcohol addiction in their family carry high risks of becoming alcoholics. But just because there may be genetic inclinations towards alcohol addiction, does not mean that you will experience the same fate. Alcohol addiction is preventable. Understanding the inner workings of addiction, maintaining a wide social circle, having healthy and supportive relationships, and staying aware of harmful influences are a preventative steps that you can take.
Quitting a drug or alcohol addiction requires the help of a primary treatment program, detox, and the willingness to work on recovery in sober living and beyond. In order to find lasting sobriety, recovering addicts need to examine the ingrained thought patterns and root causes of addiction. This means confronting painful sources of trauma that caused the need for avoidance and escape.
Engaging in consistent therapy sessions both individually and in groups can help work through issues. Working with a skilled therapist using various methods, like cognitive behavioral therapy can help bring repressed memories to the surface, while teaching coping skills. While the prospect of being vulnerable and revisiting trauma may be very painful, it is important to face and address those issues to truly understand the causes of addiction, so you can maintain your sobriety.
In additional to common therapy approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy, newer treatment modalities like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy have been proven to be effective in helping to heal trauma and addiction. Reports say that, “First invented in 1987, EMDR addresses traumatic or distressing past memories that a person has often repressed in order to avoid dealing with.” It has been growing in it’s success and positive reputation. Psychologist, Dr. Stephen Dansiger says, “EMDR therapy can play a central role in addiction treatment since trauma plays a central role in addiction etiology.”
Additionally, long-term stays in sober living or other recovery programs that provide 24 hour a day, 7 day a week care can help overcome addiction. For extended stays up to a year, addiction’s psychological impacts can be treated. Residents can focus on living in a structured environment, developing a daily routine, and making a huge impact on their recovery. One of the most beneficial lessons that you may learn during an extended stay, is how to eradicate the repeated thought pattern that took place prior to taking drugs or consuming alcohol. Examining that moment will help you understand the root causes of addiction.
During this time, some of the most important steps are intensive therapy and the atmosphere that recovering addicts will find themselves in. In a long-term recovery treatment program, you can examine your inner dialogue, past trauma and memories, and resulting actions. This is when you can make lasting change and take control. Your sobriety depends on it. Don’t wait. Find a treatment center today.