Alcohol abuse and addiction doesn’t just affect the person drinking—it affects their families and loved ones, too. Watching a family member struggle with a drinking problem can be as heartbreakingly painful as it is frustrating. But while you can’t do the hard work of overcoming addiction for your loved one, your love and support can play a crucial part in their long-term recovery.
More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction. Three Approaches to Treating Addiction by Dr. Bob Weathers
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For others, dependency comes after a prolonged period of difficulty in their life. Drinking might appear to be a good method of coping in these situations, and sufferers will often start as a ‘stop-gap’, just to tide them over until conditions improve. Nevertheless, as drinking begins to impact relationships and responsibilities, and hangovers exacerbate the very stress the drinking sought to avoid, the difficulties can increase, encouraging yet more drinking and leading to a vicious cycle.
The first step in treatment is brief intervention. The physician states unequivocally that the patient has a problem with alcohol and emphasizes that this determination stems from the consequences of alcohol in that patient's life, not from the quantity of alcohol consumed. Emphasizing the effects on family, friends, and occupation, as well as any physical manifestations, is important. Pointing out that loss of control and compulsive use indicate alcohol dependence also is important.
In addition to CREB, it is hypothesized that stress mechanisms play a role in dependence. Koob and Kreek have hypothesized that during drug use, CRF activates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA axis) and other stress systems in the extended amygdala. This activation influences the dysregulated emotional state associated with psychological dependence. They found that as drug use escalates, so does the presence of CRF in human cerebrospinal fluid. In rat models, the separate use of CRF inhibitors and CRF receptor antagonists both decreased self-administration of the drug of study. Other studies in this review showed dysregulation of other neuropeptides that affect the HPA axis, including enkephalin which is an endogenous opioid peptide that regulates pain. It also appears that µ-opioid receptors, which enkephalin acts upon, is influential in the reward system and can regulate the expression of stress hormones.
There is a wide range of alcohol rehab programs, including inpatient, outpatient, day-patient, and evening programs. Inpatient rehab facilities are the most structured. Generally, these programs run for 30, 60, or 90 days. There is a benefit to stepping out of your environment so that you can completely focus on recovery without any distractions, as in an inpatient program. However, that is not an option for many people.
Hallucinogens are mind-altering, psychoactive substances with a high potential for abuse. These substances are often taken by people looking to distort their perception of reality. Hallucinogens are also sometimes used to self-medicate a mental disorder, such as depression. However, taking hallucinogens for self-medication purposes can make an underlying condition even worse.
The United States' approach to substance abuse has shifted over the last decade, and is continuing to change. The federal government was minimally involved in the 19th century. The federal government transitioned from using taxation of drugs in the early 20th century to criminalizing drug abuse with legislations and agencies like the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) mid-20th century in response to the nation's growing substance abuse issue. These strict punishments for drug offenses shined light on the fact that drug abuse was a multi-faceted problem. The President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse of 1963 addressed the need for a medical solution to drug abuse. However, drug abuse continued to be enforced by the federal government through agencies such as the DEA and further legislations such as The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, and Anti-Drug Abuse Acts.
Counselors help individuals with identifying behaviors and problems related to their addiction. It can be done on an individual basis, but it's more common to find it in a group setting and can include crisis counseling, weekly or daily counseling, and drop-in counseling supports. Counselors are trained to develop recovery programs that help to reestablish healthy behaviors and provide coping strategies whenever a situation of risk happens. It's very common to see them also work with family members who are affected by the addictions of the individual, or in a community to prevent addiction and educate the public. Counselors should be able to recognize how addiction affects the whole person and those around him or her. Counseling is also related to "Intervention"; a process in which the addict's family and loved ones request help from a professional to get an individual into drug treatment. This process begins with a professionals' first goal: breaking down denial of the person with the addiction. Denial implies lack of willingness from the patients or fear to confront the true nature of the addiction and to take any action to improve their lives, instead of continuing the destructive behavior. Once this has been achieved, the counselor coordinates with the addict's family to support them on getting the individual to drug rehabilitation immediately, with concern and care for this person. Otherwise, this person will be asked to leave and expect no support of any kind until going into drug rehabilitation or alcoholism treatment. An intervention can also be conducted in the workplace environment with colleagues instead of family.