Understanding Addiction and How to Help Addicts

Updated on July 23, 2021

Addiction is a physical and psychological inability to desist from ingesting a drug, substance or chemical despite the harm it is causing the user. It also includes the inability to stop engaging in an activity or behaviour that harms a person or others

When we talk about addiction, we are not only talking about the inability to stop consuming what we know as hard drugs (cocaine or heroin). This term covers all sorts of dependence on any activity or ingestible substance. This condition can be a chronic disease which came about as a result of using some form of medications such as opiates. 

Do you know that some people are addicted to food, gambling, sex, work or other things that are not wrong/bad/harmful if properly used? A person is said to be addicted to something if they cannot carry on their daily lives without it. A good number of people begin a habit voluntarily but are gradually sucked into the pit of the helplessness and become dependent on whatever it is to live on a daily basis. 

There’s so much that we can say about this issue but you can click here for more information on the concept of addiction. 

Symptoms of Addiction 

The following are symptoms that indicate that an individual is an addict:-

  1. Inability to stop looking for and using drugs
  2. Compulsive engagement at a very harmful level in behaviour that form habits.
  3. Lose of interest or neglect of other activities that does not involve the harmful behaviour, activity or substance.
  4. Transferred aggression that is exhibited by lashing out at anyone who identifies or points out this dependency. 
  5. The inability to desist from behaviour, activity or the use of a drug in spite of the fact that it is negatively impacting every aspect of one’s life. 
  6. Secrecy about the use of the substance or about the behaviour and its effect. 
  7. Drastic change in physical appearance and noticeable neglect of personal hygiene.  
  8. High level of engagement in any kind of risk to obtain the substance or be able to engage in the activity. 

Withdrawal Symptoms 

When persons that are addicted to anything, try to stop it, they often experience the following symptoms:- 

  1. Irritability
  2. Anxiety
  3. Shaking and tremors 
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Fatigue

These are the non-fatal symptoms; but it might be fatal for people who try to stop taking substances such as benzodiazepines or alcohol without medical detox or supervision.  The rate of reported cases of substance abuse is growing around the country. This is why it is important for patients to find suitable help in their respective locations.

If for example you live in Houston Texas, you should be able to find a Houston drug addiction rehab center with qualified professionals. It is always advised that the journey of rehabilitation is embarked on with medical experts. 

How To Help Addicts

Most addicts initially resist help and would even go as far as antagonizing the person(s) that tries to help them. But the truth of the matter is that you cannot give up. That being said however, you have to connect with them and establish trust which would make them believe that whatever you are doing is in their best interest. 

Do not attempt to engage them about their addiction unless they are sober and when you do engage them, do not resort to criticism or shaming. While tough love is necessary, you have to be very empathic and sensitive in your approach. 

Bear in mind that they can be in denial for long but do not be pushy or confrontational. All you should do is let them know that you are there for them and you care. Also ask for their permission to always check on them to find out how they are doing. 

Methods of Treatments

You need to be prepared for when the patient would agree to treatment. One aspect of being prepared is to know the different methods of treatment that may be employed during rehab. 

These methods include the following:

  1. Medical detoxification or drug detox
  2. Using medication and drugs to start the treatment 
  3. Counselling and behavioural therapy
  4. Engaging some medical devices to manage the withdrawal symptoms
  5. Treatment of psychological issues that may be related to the addiction
  6. Follow-up/after care to ensure that the patient does not relapse

You may want to check out this site for more information on the different methods of treating addiction: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction


Note that treatment of addiction is done on a person to person basis. So do not expect a generic treatment and be ready to provide all the support that the person would need. Also bear in mind that this process may take a long while and can also be complicated.

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