Public health experts tell us that the use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs results in the single biggest health problem in the country today. At the same time, most people will have a drink of alcohol at least occasionally and never become addicted or experience problems with their use of alcohol. Similarly, many people who occasionally use illegal drugs do not become drug addicts. However, a portion of people who use alcohol and other drugs do go on to have problems – often very serious problems – as a result of their use. These people usually have a family history of alcohol or drug addiction, a lot of stresses in their lives, and not enough coping skills. They are said to abuse or become addicted to alcohol or other drugs (another term used is “dependent”). “Abuse” refers to using a substance repeatedly in a way that causes problems.
“Addiction” or “dependence” occurs when the person loses their ability to control their use, and when the problems resulting from alcohol or drug use become severe. This is dangerous because alcohol or illegal drug use can lead to physical illness, relationship problems, divorce, legal and financial problems, depression and anxiety, and even death.
Other addictions include overeating, gambling, pornography, sex, relationships, the internet, and even work.
Fortunately, it is possible to get effective help for addictions of all sorts. A first step usually involves admitting to yourself, to a family member, or a friend that alcohol or drug use, or even one of the other addictions named above, has begun to cause a problem. Sometimes, an arrest for driving while intoxicated (DUI), or evidence of drinking or drugging on the job, forces a person to seek help. The steps of the healing process usually involve an assessment by a trained substance abuse professional, such as a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS), or a physician trained in addiction medicine. Treatment options include:
- Weekly individual and group therapy sessions
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment – two or three hour group sessions, usually three or four days a week, for about two to three months.
- Detoxification – in a hospital or specialized detox unit for persons seriously addicted to alcohol or certain other drugs
- Inpatient rehabilitation – usually 30-day inpatient stays in facilities which specialize in treating addictions.
Most treatment providers encourage attending community based support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Women for Sobriety (WFS), or Rational Recovery. And despite common misperceptions, a great deal of evidence now demonstrates that addictions treatment works.
If you or a loved one are experiencing problems as a result of using alcohol or other drugs, or have developed an out of control relationship with these substances, or are having a problem with food, gambling, the internet, or any other possible addictions, please seek help. HRC has a number of therapists trained to assess, help with intervention, and provide treatment for substance abuse and addictions of all types.