Are substances affecting your life? Alcohol? Cocaine? Marijuana (“Pot”)? Prescription Drugs? Tranquilizers? Anxiety medication? Sleeping pills? Uppers? Downers?
Addiction, like any other serious medical disease, can harm your health, career, finances, and your relationships with others. Substance abuse is considered the largest cause of avoidable illnesses and untimely death. Fortunately, there are quite a few effective treatments available if you are willing to seek them. Whether you or a loved one is suffering, it is most important to realize that a problem exists and you must find help. Just call, and help will be on its way.
Alcohol and drug abuse are diseases of denial and the first step is to confront the addict and have him or her recognize and admit that a problem exists. The first step in conquering the problem is to break the denial and admit that the alcohol or drug is controlling you, not to perpetuate the belief that you are choosing to use the drug.
Tolerance, Dependence and Abuse
What is tolerance?
Have you noticed that you have to increase your intake of a substance in order to continue to experience the effects associated with your substance of choice? If so, you may have developed a tolerance. Developing a tolerance, you must now take more of the substance to feel the same way you did when you formerly used smaller amounts. For example, an alcoholic may initially feel a buzz after only a few drinks but after a few years they may need many more drinks to experience the effects of alcohol.
What is dependence?
Do you feel like you need to consume a substance just to avoid feeling physically ill? If this is the case, your body has probably become dependent on that particular substance. If you have developed a dependency, you would feel symptoms of withdrawal if you abruptly stop using the substance. For example, if you continue to take a prescription drug daily, such as a pain killer, after a while, you will need to take it every single day just to feel physically “normal.”
What is abuse?
Are drugs controlling your life? If so, you may have reached the point of substance abuse. You probably spend quite a bit of time and effort thinking about, searching for, using, and dealing with the effects of your habit. Once you begin abusing a substance, it can be difficult to control or stop yourself from using. For example, cocaine addict is constantly looking for his next “hit,” and his life is now consumed by always reaching that high.
The consequences of alcohol and drug abuse
Is alcohol really harmful?
Do you think you simply drink socially? Many people drink at social occasions to help ease anxiety and release inhibitions. This does not mean you have a problem, but it often begins this way. Yes, alcohol may reduce your anxiety, but once you choose to use alcohol to numb you from any emotions you choose to not feel, a problem can arise. Your central nervous system becomes depressed when you drink excessively, thereby bringing about carelessness. This is precisely what leads to serious accidents, injuries, and deaths. Your alcoholism won’t just hurt you, but could kill those around you. Alcoholism can be associated with depression, and often runs in families. This is why those who are predisposed to addiction should choose to live an alcohol-free lifestyle to avoid risk. Serious effects of alcohol on your physical health include cancer, heart disease, birth defects (fetal alcohol syndrome), impotence, diseases of the liver, and premature aging. Cocaine is often used in a combination alcohol to counteract the effects of the depression it causes. This leads to a dangerous cycle of abuse.
Psychotherapy with an emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at AA (alcoholics anonymous) can help you alter your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior and addiction, and assist you to find joy, satisfaction, and pleasure in life without alcohol.
What are the dangers of marijuana?
Although it is one of the most popular drugs, marijuana, poses extreme health risks. Also known as “dope,” “pot,” “grass,” or “cannabis,” marijuana causes an array of health and cognitive issues, including rapid heartbeat, short-term memory loss, high blood pressure, inhibition of decision-making, difficulty processing information, inhibited motor skills, inhibited perception and paranoia. After long-term use, marijuana can permanently hinder you from functioning appropriately and can cause a lack enthusiasm for maintaining long standing plans. This is referred to as “amotivational syndrome.” This can prevent someone from achieving academically, professionally and personally.
Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) can help you alter your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior and addiction, and can assist you to find joy, satisfaction, and pleasure in life without marijuana.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine is an extremely dangerous stimulant that speeds up the nervous system and brain. Cocaine gives the false impression of superior power and ecstasy. As the effect of the drug wears off, a “low” or a depression will occur. Abusing such a stimulant can lead to violence, manic behavior, heart attack, seizures, aneurism (burst blood vessels in the brain), stroke, paranoia, convulsions, psychosis, and death. If cocaine is persistently used, long-term psychosis can result. Alcohol is often used with cocaine to bring one down from their high.
Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) can help you alter your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior and addiction, and can assist you to find joy, satisfaction, and pleasure in life without cocaine.
What is Heroin?
Are you or someone you know addicted to heroin? Heroin is extremely dangerous and the most addictive drug. Heroin produces an intense feeling of brief pleasure, but it is also followed by intense withdrawal.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur within 4 to 6 hours and include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Runny nose and eyes
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pains
Heroin overdose is quite common and can happen to anyone who only uses small amounts. In addition, heroin abuse encompasses a danger in the spread of deadly diseases because of the use of contaminated needles. These dangers include the spread of HIV and Hepatitis B and C, along with severe damage to the brain, lungs, and heart. Psychotherapy can be helpful in altering your dysfunctional behavior and addiction and help you to find joy and satisfaction in a life without drugs.
Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) help you alter your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior and addiction, and can assist you to find joy, satisfaction, and pleasure in life without drugs. This is usually combined with methodone maintenance treatment or treatment with buphenorphine.
What are hallucinogens?
Hallucinogens are drugs that change the way you perceive, and cause you to hallucinate. With hallucinogens, you may hear noises and see things that are not there. You may also feel a sense of complete elation, or a noticeable change in thought, mood, or sense of time. Hallucinogens include LSD, also known as “acid,” new “designer drugs,” including ecstasy, or the “date rape drug,” also called a “roofie.” The consequences of LSD are quite serious, including flashbacks to periods of hallucination even when the drugs have not been taken. Consequences of ecstasy can be extremely dangerous to your health, and, if the drug is used in large quantities or after physical activity, death can result. A major result of hallucinogenic substances is neurological damage and impaired judgment.
Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) can be helpful in altering your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior of addiction and finding joy and satisfaction in life without drugs.
What are inhalants?
Inhalants are chemical vapors that may affect your state of mind. It is important, however, to remember that they are serious and harmful drugs, regardless of their common usage in everyday activities and their easy accessibility. Because they are sold as legal products in any grocery store or hardware shop, teenagers use them quite frequently. However, one “sniff” or “huff” can kill. Once these chemicals reach the lungs and bloodstream, they can lead to suffocation, heart failure, or permanent damage to the nervous system.
Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) can be helpful in altering your self- destructive, dysfunctional behavior of addiction and finding joy and satisfaction in life without drugs.
Am I addicted to my prescription medication, pain medication, benzodiazepine, sleeping medication or other sedatives?
Prescription medications are obviously vital to the health of many individuals. However, once these helpful drugs become abused, they can cause serious harm. The most common type of abused prescription drug is the sedative. When used correctly, sedatives effectively relieve anxiety and help insomnia. However, if used in quantities larger than the prescribed dose, or taken illegally, they can result in overdose or death. You may develop a tolerance to the drug and your body will eventually become dependent on it just to feel normal. Sedatives, known as benzodiazepines (BZD), include Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan and Valium. Narcotics, known as killers, include Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Morphine. BZDs bind to benzodiazepine receptors and enhance GABA effects. These medications produce analgesic effects. Hydrocodone binds to various opioid receptors, producing analgesia and sedation. When used as prescribed, these drugs can be very helpful. However, when abused, they can lead to vasodilatation, severe hypotension, central nervous system depression (CNS), respiratory depression, profound sedation and psychomotor impairment (addictive effects).
These medications must never be taken with alcohol, as the combination can be fatal.
Psychotherapy combined with medication management can provide the patient with knowledge and respect for these medications. Psychotherapy with emphasis on relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at NA (narcotics anonymous) can be helpful in altering your self-destructive, dysfunctional behavior of addiction and finding joy and satisfaction in life without drugs
Is nicotine really a drug?
Yes, it is. Although nicotine is easily obtained if you are over the age of 21 in the United States, it is clear that it is one of the most deadly of all drugs. Tobacco use kills over 430,000 Americans every year, which is more than cocaine, alcohol, heroin, car accidents, fires, homicide, AIDS, and suicide combined. Nicotine is powerful and almost as addictive as heroine. Withdrawal is common, and can include feelings of irritability, anger, anxiety, frustration, depression, and insomnia. However, these symptoms are nothing compared to long-term consequences of tobacco use, including cancer, heart attack, high blood pressure, emphysema, lung cancer, and ulcers. Psychotherapy and hypnosis, with an emphasis on relapse prevention, can be helpful in altering your self-destructive, dysfunctional tobacco addiction and help you to find joy and satisfaction in life without smoking.
Are you looking for treatment for yourself or an addicted loved one? The first step is to recognize that a problem exists. Often, the individual is in denial and psychoeducation is a necessary first step. In such a scenario, an intervention by loved ones can help the person recognize the importance of seeking treatment.
Treatment usually comes in different forms, and encompasses the tackling of issues that are not directly related to physical or medical symptoms. Through psychotherapy, addicts recognize their addictive pattern, learn the reasons why they behave in self destructive ways, and learn to cope with stress in a healthier way. Outpatient treatment is usually tried first. This can be a combination of individual therapy, relapse prevention therapy, and attendance at a self group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). If the patient fails to progress in outpatient treatment, the next step would be group therapy, outpatient programs or an inpatient rehabilitation center. Some individuals require medical detox before entering into a program. This is usually done as an inpatient in a hospital and usually takes about 4 days.
Participation in psychotherapy and self-help groups increases understanding of the self-destructive nature of these substances. Psychotherapy, with an emphasis on relapse prevention, can be helpful in altering yourself-destructive, dysfunctional behavior and addiction and help you to find joy and satisfaction in a life without alcohol or drugs.
Family therapy and/or attendance at Alanon meetings helps family members learn about the disease, understand their part in maintaining the illness, and understand their role as enablers. It helps them recognize their co-dependent behavior, which may have enabled the addicted family member to continue their self-destructive path. Attendance at family therapy in combination with Alanon helps free the family members of their dysfunction and ultimately benefits the alcoholic or drug addict.
Drug and alcohol counseling by a licensed psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker, professional counselor, psychiatric nurse practitioner or psychiatrist with training and experience in alcohol and drug issues and relapse prevention, can reinforce the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Ala-non and lead to recovery and improved functioning for all family members. Relapse prevention is the goal of therapy.
It is important for someone with a drug or alcohol problem to seek psychotherapy as soon as possible from a licensed psychologist, clinical social worker, psychotherapist, counselor, psychiatric nurse practitioner or psychiatrist. In a confidential, supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere, psychotherapy or counseling with a licensed psychologist or psychotherapist can help the individual gain awareness, achieve positive behavioral change, and improve overall functioning in school, work, and relationships. If there is an underlying psychiatric condition, such as depression or anxiety, this will be addressed after the addiction is stopped. Medication can be prescribed by a psychiatric nurse practitioner or psychiatrist. The sooner treatment is begun, the sooner recovery can begin.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, and you would like more information about treatment, want to discuss your specific needs, or make an appointment, call our office today to speak to someone. We have licensed psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, counselors, clinical social workers, and psychiatric nurse practitioners, qualified and experienced in effectively treating alcohol and drug addictions, and we can help suggest the therapist that best meets your needs. Our telephone number is 212-996-3939.