Many things in life can lead to addiction. Genetics, environment, and social pressures all contribute to someone's likelihood of developing an addiction. Even someone's gender or age can be a big factor. For adults, one of the leading causes of addiction is sudden life changes, stress, trauma, and other mental health disorders or illnesses.
Addiction, at its core, is usually the result of someone attempting to deal with pain. This pain can be emotional, such as the loss of a loved one or feelings of guilt after surviving a traumatic event. Sometimes this pain can be physical, as experienced by those living with chronic and often debilitating illnesses. When people attempt to deal with this pain by consuming and abusing substances, this is known as self-medicating.
The definition of self-medicating is when someone uses substances without the oversight of a doctor to treat a symptom, real or perceived. For example, let's consider prescription opioids. Prescription opioids are a type of drug used in the medical field to suppress pain or administered as an anesthetic. Opioids are high-risk drugs for addiction, so it's strictly controlled.
It's normal for someone after surgery to be prescribed a set amount of opioids by a doctor to help manage their pain as they heal. The doctor works with their patient to make sure they are not being harmed by their medication and that they are taking it correctly and safely.
When someone uses opioids without a doctor's oversight so they can momentarily forget about a traumatic event, that is self-medication. In these cases, a person begins to need more and more of their chosen substance or drug for it to be effective. This then can lead to addiction, which can be difficult to heal from without professional help.
Places like Pathways Wellness Center exist to give hope to those struggling with their addiction, as they understand the reasons behind it. The goal is to provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for clients so they can focus on recovery. Treatment for addiction doesn't just address physical or psychological addiction. It also treats the pain, trauma, and illnesses that lead to addiction in the first place.
When someone becomes addicted to a substance, it becomes a substance use disorder (SUD). Addiction is the most severe form of SUD and is often the result of a co-occurring mental health disorder. Some examples of common co-occurring mental health disorders are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and depression. Many people either don't realize or deny that they may have a mental health disorder or illness, and attempt to treat their symptoms by themselves. This is sometimes done through drug and substance use, either legal or illegal, as a form of self-medication.
When it comes to substances and drugs, two main factors lead to addiction. These are how chemically addictive it is and how psychologically dependent a person can become on a substance or drug. They may sound alike, as they both deal with the brain, but they are quite different.
A chemical addiction changes the chemical balance of someone's brain. This can cause the brain to not function correctly or cause damage to parts of the brain. When the brain becomes used to these chemicals, it begins to believe it needs them to function. If the brain doesn't get these chemicals, it can cause someone to feel sick or pained. This is known as withdrawal, and sometimes it can be very dangerous depending on the substance or drug. A person may also begin to experience cravings that can increase in frequency as time goes by.
To understand this better, imagine you are a regular coffee drinker. When you don't get caffeine, you get headaches and feel irritable. That is a withdrawal symptom. When you can't stop thinking about getting your next cup of coffee so you can feel better, that is a craving.
Psychological addiction is when someone believes strongly that they need a substance or drug to function. This is usually the case for those dealing with symptoms of trauma and pain. Those dealing with trauma can become dependent on the numbing or mind-altering effects of some substances or drugs. Usually, this is to sleep, suppress emotions, or block out memories or thoughts. Someone who strongly believes that they need a substance or drug to function as a person has a psychological addiction.
A person can be both chemically and psychologically addicted to a substance or drug. It takes specialized treatment at a mental health care facility to help someone recover from addiction. Pathways Wellness Center is an example of a mental healthcare facility that offers addiction treatment and its related co-occurring mental health disorders. No matter what has led to addiction, everyone is capable of recovery.
If you notice that you or a loved one is engaging in self-medicating behaviors, it's time to get help. It's possible to get help before self-medication can lead to addiction. However, it sometimes goes unnoticed until it has negative effects on someone's life and body. It's important to remember that nobody is a bad person for developing an addiction. Everyone, regardless of who they are, deserves quality and compassionate treatment for their mental health and addiction.
Many things in life can lead to someone becoming addicted to a substance. Mostly, it's the result of pain and trauma, but other factors can be involved. The most obvious of which is self-medicating. However, self-medicating can only cover up a problem, preventing someone from fully recovering. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Azusa and Glendora, California, we know that underneath addiction is a struggle. We help our clients by acknowledging their struggles and bravery. By addressing the underlying causes of addiction, we give our clients the strength they need to achieve the recovery they deserve. Everyone is deserving of help, including you and those you love. For more information about addiction treatment, call (888) 771-0966 today.