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Chemical Dependency Explained

A guide to understanding what a chemical dependency is, how to spot one, and ways to treat it.

What is substance abuse and chemical dependency? Substance abuse is defined as using a substance(s) in a pattern which causes substantial issues in one's everyday life. Typically, persons who abuse drugs miss work, school or other important obligations. Substance abuse also typically causes significant issues such as experiencing troubles in interpersonal relationships, legally, and financially. A substance abuse problem often leads to developing a dependency if the issue is not treated.

What Is a Chemical Dependency?

A chemical dependency, also know as addiction is defined as a disease of the brain characterized by the inability to consistently cease use of a substance. In addiction, other characteristics of an addict include:

  • Impaired ability to control behaviors
  • Experiencing extreme cravings
  • Inability to recognize the harm and consequences of one's use problem
  • Dysfunctional emotional response

Similar to other chronic disease, there is no cure for a chemical dependency/addiction. However, addiction can be effectively treated and managed. Failure to treat an addiction can cause the condition to worsen, and in some cases can lead to premature death.

Symptoms of Substance or Chemical Dependency

The following are common symptoms and behaviors of a person who is struggling with substance abuse or dependency:

  • Consuming larger amounts of a substance and/or over longer periods of time than planned
  • Unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop use of substances
  • Preoccupation with a substance(s): spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use of a substance(s)
  • Substance use is interfering with work, home, and/or school
  • Continued use of a substance(s) despite knowing the consequences and harm it's causing
  • Developing a tolerance, causing the need for larger amounts and/or more frequent use of a substance
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when substance use has been significantly reduced or stopped
  • Loss of interest or reduced participation in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable
  • Substance use is causing issues in interpersonal relationships with friends & family

Commonly Abused Drugs

Some of the most commonly abused drugs include:

  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription drugs (i.e. pain relievers, stimulant drugs, anti-anxiety pills)
  • Inhalants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Tobacco
  • Methamphetamines

Taking the First Step towards Recovery: Medical Detox

When making the brave choice to abstain from using drugs it's very important to seek professional help. Upon making the decision to recover your life, one of the first and most vital steps in recovery is undergoing medical detox treatment. Medical detox centers were designed with the goals of providing recovering addicts the opportunity to safely withdraw from substance use and readily prepare clients for transitioning into rehab. At a medical detox center each of client goes through three phases during treatment, these phases include:

  • Evaluation: During this phase they evaluate clients as a means to collect information such as the severity of their use problem and any preexisting health conditions. This information is used to create individualized treatment plans to best suit our client's unique needs.
  • Stabilization: During this phase they assist the clients in maintaining stability during their phase of withdrawal by providing them with medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Preparation for Rehab: During this phase they begin preparing the client to enter into rehab. The staff works one on one with its clients to encourage them to follow through with further treatment. As well as, discuss treatment options, and the benefits of continuing treatment.

Always keep in mind that a medical detox is just the first step in treatment, not the final. It is very important to continue treatment upon completion of detox. A medical detox center alone cannot treat an addiction.

Get Started with Treatment

Get started today on your path to recovery from a substance use problems. Call today at 203-388-1730.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/mental_health_disorders/substance_abusechemical_dependency_85,P00761/

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P00761

https://www.asam.org/quality-practice/definition-of-addiction

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