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Tag Archive: addiction treatment

What is a Functioning Addict?

Most people hear the term “addict” and immediately picture someone who is down and out. They imagine someone so addicted to their substance of choice that they may have lost their home and be living on the streets. Or someone involved in a life of crime, and maybe they have even been in and out of prison. While this is the reality for many addicts, there is another kind of addict called a “functioning addict.”

The term “functioning addict” is a bit of a misnomer. While yes, functioning addicts are typically able to maintain their jobs or losing all their money, they are not fully functioning people. The typical day of a functioning addict may start with a drink in the morning, and barely making it through the workday until they have a few more drinks when they get home. Functioning addicts are typically absent from their role in the family. They are removed from social groups and tend to keep to themselves.

While this may not cause physical harm, it can adversely affect the family unit and friendships.
Friends and family of an addict need to understand that addiction is a disease, even when it is in the form of a functioning addict. Often, people may look at a functioning addict and assume they simply do not want to get help or do not care to remain involved in their family and friend groups. However, functioning addicts are suffering from a disease that they may not be able to heal from on their own.

There are actual physical brain changes that occur in the brain of a functioning addict. Typically drugs and alcohol cause a dopamine release in the brain. After this pattern is repeated multiple times, as is the case with an addict, the brain stores the memory that using a specific substance will make the whole body feel better, even though the substance is harmful. The dopamine release is so powerful, it makes it very difficult for the addict to find happiness or joy from anything other than the substance to which they are addicted. The more a person uses a substance to feel better, the stronger the neuro connections in the brain become that drive the person to desire the substance.

One of the important parts of addiction treatment is building new neuropathways the re-teach the brain how to find pleasure in something other than the addict’s substance of choice. It is also important that addicts learn to avoid triggers, and when they do encounter triggers, learn healthier ways of dealing with them. Functioning addicts may be able to participate in most day to day activities. However, their lives are still negatively affected by substances. Many functioning addicts can find outpatient treatment, which can help them regain control of their lives. Addiction is a challenging disease to heal from without help. Fortunately, there are many resources available to those living with this disease.

Systematic and Medically Supervised Withdrawal from a Drug

Medically supervised withdrawal from a drug, also referred to as detoxification, is the first step in substance abuse treatment programs and it involves the removal of these toxic products from the bloodstream.

An indicator of addiction to a substance is the onset of withdrawal symptoms when trying to remove the drugs from the body. These can range from mild to severe in nature, and there are situations which can be life-threatening depending on the drug used as well as the level of dependency and the method of intake.

Withdrawal symptoms can be both psychological and physical and abruptly stopping the offending drug is usually not suggested. Therefore, medically assisted detoxification is recommended to prevent patients experiencing unwanted withdrawal effects.

assisted or Supervised Withdrawal

Medically Assisted Withdrawal

Medically assisted detoxification is accomplished in a controlled facility which is supervised by healthcare professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some patients may need to be weaned down from the drugs they are using in order to slowly get the product in their system down to nothing, and others may require being prescribed other medications in order to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

The patients most likely to require medically assisted withdrawal include those who are addicted to drugs such as:

  • Prescription opioids
  • Heroin
  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines

Prescription Opioids and Heroin

Prescription opioid addiction is a public health emergency currently in the United States with over 40 Americans dying from opioid overdoses every day in the country. In 2012 alone, over 2 million Americans over the age of 12 were addicted to these medications and another near 500,000 people were addicted to heroin. Heroin is also an opioid but an illegal one.

Opioid addiction needs to be managed medically since withdrawing from these drugs causes uncomfortable symptoms and signs such as:

  • Excessive sweating with intermittent chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Generalized muscle aches and pains
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Patients addicted to prescription opioids are usually managed by gradually reducing the dose of the drug until it has worked out completely from their bodies. Heroin is managed differently in that methadone is dispensed to these patients to take over the effects caused by the drug. The methadone is then gradually tapered down until it can be stopped.

Medications such as buprenorphine and buprenorphine combined with naloxone are also used to help treat opioid addiction and dependency.

Alcohol

Suddenly stopping the intake of alcohol in someone who has a severe dependency on this product can be life-threatening.

A condition known as delirium tremens (DT) can develop as a result of alcohol withdrawal and may present with the following symptoms and signs:

  • Agitation
  • Fevers
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

In order to avoid these severe conditions, medically assisted withdrawal from alcohol is often necessary and entails the use of medications such as benzodiazepines. Mineral and vitamin supplementation may also be prescribed to replace those lost as a result of excessive alcohol use.

Benzodiazepines

These drugs do have their place in treating anxiety and sleep disorders but there are patients who become dependent on them and need help to remove them from their system.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is performed in a similar fashion to that of opioid withdrawal in that the dosage of the medication is tapered down until it is completely metabolized by the body and completely removed from the patient’s bloodstream.

Patients addicted to short-acting benzodiazepines are prescribed longer-acting ones during medically managed withdrawal in order to reduce the chance of potential side effects.

Change can be Hard regarding Drugs and Alcohol

alcohol rehab san diego In the beginning, change is very difficult to any drug- or alcohol-addicted person. This is due to the possibility of changing your surroundings, friends, and sometimes family upon who you socialize. You may need to find new friends, leave your family home, or even stop frequenting your normal hangouts to continue the healing process and start making the change to the path to recovery. At this step, you start thinking about the good ole times when you hung out and partied with friends before you really got serious about becoming clean and sober. The one thing you forget is that they don’t want you to be clean and sober. Rather, they still want you down there with them, living the life of an addict.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse National Survey on Drug Use and Health, chronic alcohol use affects the lives of 50 percent of the population in the U.S. In noting some of the alcohol recovery statistics out there, there are nearly 22.5 million people in the U.S. who are in need of treatment or alternatives to alcohol treatment and sadly only 3.8 million people will actually get the help they need.

The NIDA also reports that approximately 41 percent of admissions to recovery treatment programs are for alcohol use. Of the people admitted to alcohol programs, 60 percent were white, 21 percent were African-American, and 13.7 percent were of Hispanic origin..

AA and NA

For a successful recovery from drugs and alcohol, you need to now find a support group that will help you through the process, preferably a group that has succeeded and can help you see the signs of relapse. Support is important because recovering addicts have been there and can pull you back out before you drink or do drugs again. There are many online resources and groups that can help you with your recovery.

Two of the most successful is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These are support groups that usually meet 2-3 days a week and are formed of recovering drug and/or alcohol addicts that have been clean and sober for many years and are experts in reading the signs of relapse. They will even assign you a sponsor who you can talk with any time day or night along your road to recovery in between meetings if you start to fall prey to the addiction again.

The results of AA’s most recent study in 2007 were promising. According to AA, 33 percent of the 8,000 North American members it surveyed had remained sober for over 10 years. Twelve percent were sober for 5 to 10 years; 24 percent were sober 1 to 5 years; and 31 percent were sober for less than a year.

Alcohol Abuse

Relapses on the Road to Recovery

If you start using the substance again, it will be harder for you to quit. You may try to just tell yourself only one drink, that’s all, or “I will have or just one pill today, but I can stop.” This is the time when you need a meeting or to contact your sponsor and be truthful and honest of your urges and wants. This is a normal sign every drug and alcohol addict goes through. The ones that reach for help have a higher rate of success in getting through this step towards recovery. During this period of time, communication is a key factor to express your urges and desires instead of reaching for a drink or a pill to make yourself feel better.

For any drug or alcohol addict, the change step will always be crucial and difficult in many ways. Regardless, completing this step is a huge accomplishment both mentally and physically. Making the right changes and correct choices will help guide you towards your goal of recovery. You just need to be strong when your old pals call and try to get you to come over. When those negative thoughts that drove you to drink and use medication creep back in to your mind, just say ”No!” Instead, surround yourself with the people that support you and can help you from falling back into addiction.

Pacific Bay Recovery is the top drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in San Diego CA. With over a 90% success rate long term, the providers at Pacific Bay enjoy working with drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis patients! Call us today for the top private inpatient rehab center in all of California.

Resources:

The Fix Does AA Really Work? A Round-Up of Recent Studies Retrieved http://www.thefix.com/content/the-real-statistics-of-aa7301

 

Saintjude Retreats Addiction Recovery Statistics Retrieved http://www.soberforever.net/addictions-recovery/addiction-recovery-statistics.cfm