Stigma surrounding addiction is a weapon! The judgment and societal pressures are so damaging that addiction rehabilitation only gathers a meager 3.7 million while an astounding 21.2 million people need addiction treatment.
It is about time that we rethink how we judge addiction and its treatment and instead give rise to giving help and facilitating those who are seeking help from addiction and through the tough time.
What Causes Addiction?
One-third of patients suffering from major depressive disorders have comorbid substance abuse disorder (Source). Another research found an association of untreated PTSD with substance abuse which is why trauma therapy is often used for substance abuse patients to address the core cause of addiction. However, many of the patients might not be aware of this association.
At times an addiction is also caused by societal pressure. An external environment like economic factors, family issues are also associated with depression and might lead to addiction.
During the pandemic, the unprecedented upheaval resulted in a loss of jobs and triggered depression and anxiety amongst the masses. As a result, it caused a surge in the usage of drugs worldwide. This shows the critical role of external factors in developing habitual drug people.
The top three things that cause the person to develop a habit of consuming drugs and becoming addicted to them are poverty, trauma, and peer pressure, which are treated in different ways.
How Is Addiction Treated?
Drugs have a direct impact on the dopamine release of the brain. Dopamine is the hormone that the brain’s reward center releases. Therefore, prolonged use of drugs results in the brain producing lesser and lesser dopamine in the absence of drugs.
As a result, quitting drugs is not as easy as society might perceive it. Therefore, external help and societal support are critical success factors in treating addiction. Especially in cases when addiction is a comorbid issue stemming from PTSD, trauma therapies alongside medication can help treat addiction and prevent the person from spiraling back into addiction. Leading addiction treatment services offer options for those whose private health insurance has coverage for addiction rehabilitation services. The UK is slowly catching up to other countries where addiction treatment is considered equally needed to mental health management.
Medication, Relapse, and other Challenges
Because of its impact on the brain, drug treatments include medications that induce the production of dopamine that was previously only released upon the consumption of the drug. As a result, many myths surround addiction treatment. At times, medication usage for treating addiction is associated with replacing one drug with another.
This myth is that addicts spiral into addiction again when they leave medication. However, it has been burst by many professionals. Even then, it remains a core stigma and hindrance when seeking addiction help.
Relapse is also a part of the treatment. However, relapse does not mean the failure of the treatment. Addiction can be resolved with continuous therapy and rehabilitation even after the fourth, fifth, and even the tenth relapse.
Does Addiction Treatment Replace One Addiction with Another?
Medications for chronic conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and blood pressure are taken for the rest of the person’s life. Similarly, addiction can be regarded as a chronic condition that must be treated with a prolonged medication course.
Medication does not mean the replacement of one addiction for another. This is because doctors are to wean off the patients from medications gradually if they feel the brain is ready to produce normal levels of dopamine on its own.
It all depends on the condition of the patient, their history, and whether or not the source of the issue has been addressed.
It is about time that these myths and stigmas surrounding addiction and its treatment are resolved. The disabilities law in the US also supports those seeking addiction treatment in the workplace as long as they are fulfilling their responsibilities. However, in the UK, addiction is not formally classified as a disability.
Workplaces in the US have also begun offering rehabilitation facilities and insurance coverage on these treatments. However, in the UK the organizations are not obliged to retain employees while they are on addiction treatment.
Therefore, with the changing global mindset, it is high time that we rethink addiction for what it was thought to be and start asking the right questions and providing the necessary support to alleviate those going through the process.
Summing it Up
The world is slow to accept things as the new norm. Anything out of the ‘normal’ is often stigmatized, giving rise to potentially harmful myths to address the concept properly.
Judgment is never the answer to issues, but rather through support and humility, people can help others through their tough times. Once a sense of community is instilled, it will lead to a more harmonious and happy society.