Are you struggling with an addiction that is out of control?  Do you feel isolated, helpless or ashamed? Are you worried about a friend or family member’s addiction?  The good news is that you or your loved one can get better.

There is hope, no matter how bad the addiction is and no matter how powerless you feel.

Common Addictions:

  • Drugs –prescription or recreational
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Gambling
  • Internet

Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive behaviors.  People who are addicted feel an overwhelming, uncontrollable need for drugs or alcohol, or something else, even in the face of negative consequences.  This self-destructive behavior can be hard to understand.  Why continue doing something that’s hurting you?  Why is it so hard to stop?

Signs, Symptoms and Help

Many people use addiction to escape physical or emotional discomfort.  Someone may start drinking because they are depressed, smoking pot to deal with stress, using cocaine to boost confidence, or taking prescription painkillers to relieve chronic back pain.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Neglecting responsibilities at school, work or home (ie.flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children) because of the addiction.
Using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high, like driving while on drugs, using dirty needles or having unprotected sex.
Getting into legal trouble, like being arrested for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support a drug habit.
Causing problems in relationships, such as fighting with your partner or family or losing old friends.

Myths and Truths About Addiction

  1. Myth – Overcoming addiction is a matter of will-power.  You can stop the behavior if you really want to.   Truth – Prolonged exposure to certain behaviors alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and compulsions.  These changes make it extremely difficult to stop the addictive behavior.
  2. Myth – Addiction is a disease; there’s nothing you can do about it.   Truth – Most experts agree that addiction is a brain disease, but there are treatments that can help.  Addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise and other treatments.
  3. Myth – Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better.   Truth – Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process and the earlier, the better.  The longer addictive behaviors continue, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat.  Don’t wait to seek help.
  4. Myth – You can’t force someone into treatment; they have to want help.   Truth – Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to work.  People who are pressured into treatment are just as likely to be successful as those who enter treatment on their own.
  5. Myth – Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point trying again.   Truth – Recovery from addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks.  Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that you’re a lost cause.  Rather, it is an indication to get back into treatment or adjust the treatment approach.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please request an appointment with an iTherapy counselor to discuss your concerns.

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