There Is Life After Substance Abuse: How To Get The Help You Need
When substance abuse becomes a problem, life can seem hopeless. You begin to wonder if you can ever get back to the life you had before it started. You've learned the ropes. You know the quickest way to get a hold of your drug of choice. And, even though you are fully aware of how it's damaged your life, work and relationships, it seems impossible to stop using. The good news is that you can get past substance abuse. It might be a difficult journey, but with the right help, you can stop using and reclaim your life.
What Exactly Is Substance Abuse?
What image comes up for you when you hear the word "substance abuse?" Do you think of a homeless person smoking crack in an alleyway? Or, perhaps you think of a teenager using marijuana in his parents' basement. Maybe you even think of a high-powered executive using cocaine to stay on top of his game. All these people may have substance abuse disorder, but so can people of any age, background, or social or economic status. A good substance abuse definition crosses all socioeconomic boundaries and focuses on the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of the disease.
So, what is substance abuse? Substance abuse is classified by experts as a brain disease. Someone with a substance abuse disorder uses harmful or risky psychoactive drugs, which may include illicit street drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs or even tobacco. Just using the drug once doesn't always lead to substance abuse. Those who have the disorder are influenced to keep using by their biology, environment and developmental factors like using the substance at an early age.
Substance Abuse Statistics
Substance abuse is an almost overwhelming problem among Americans. Substance abuse statistics reveal just how prevalent and damaging addictions can be as well as which groups are affected most. Consider these numbers as you contemplate the change you're about to make.
- In 2015, there were 24,539,000 people age 12 and older who used illicit drugs other than marijuana. That's 9.2% of the population.
- In 2015, there were 7,737,000 people age 12 and over or 2.9% of those surveyed, who had a substance abuse disorder.
- 5% of those surveyed said cocaine was easy to obtain.
- 6% were approached by someone who sold drugs.
- 2,288,000 Americans age 12 and older received treatment for substance abuse in 2015.
- Teen substance abuse statistics show that marijuana, alcohol, and prescription drugs used for nonmedical purposes are the most often abused drugs.
- However, only 9 percent of the people who needed treatment for substance abuse received it.
- One in eight people with illicit substance abuse disorder also struggled with alcohol abuse.
- About 17% of the unemployed had a substance abuse problem, while only 9% of the working population did.
- Illicit drug use costs the U.S. about $181,000,000,000 annually, while alcohol costs the country about $235,000,000,000 each year.
- Abuse of alcohol kills about 3.3 million people each year worldwide.
- 3 million people around the world have a drug abuse disorder.
Do I Have Substance Abuse Disorder?
You can get a quick idea of whether drugs are a problem for you by taking a short quiz based on the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST). If you go to a treatment center or speak to a substance abuse counselor for substance abuse evaluation, they will likely give you the ASSIST and conduct a short interview with you to evaluate your condition as a part of the substance abuse assessment.
The symptoms of substance abuse include several biological changes as well as behaviors resulting from the drug abuse. When you become dependent on a drug, you feel an overwhelming sense of need for it and have trouble controlling your use of it. Even when the drug causes you harm, you find it next to impossible to quit. You put your drug of choice above work, relationships, and your health. You build up a tolerance for it so that it takes more of it to get the same effect. If you go off the drug, you may experience symptoms of physical withdrawal.
Substance abuse treatment can be handled on an inpatient or outpatient basis or with a combination of both methods. Self-help books and recordings are available, but they are rarely enough alone to help someone who is addicted overcome their substance abuse. Twelve-step groups make the most sense after or as a part of a more rigorous short-term treatment program. Talking to a counselor can be an important part of the treatment. Then, too, there are inpatient treatment facilities that specialize in substance abuse treatments or have a separate ward for substance abuse patients.
Is a Treatment Center Right for Me?
Substance abuse programs are often carried out in specialty inpatient clinics, some of when are private and some public. You reside at the center for the duration of your inpatient program, living, eating, interacting and going to groups with others who have substance abuse issues.
An M.D. oversees your condition, watching for signs of biological distress, prescribing drugs that help with withdrawal, and working with the other staff to ensure your treatment is successful. If you have a dual diagnosis, meaning that you have another mental disorder along with substance abuse, the doctor can make a diagnosis and provide or arrange treatment for both conditions.
Also at the treatment center are professional substance abuse counselors who hold group sessions and provide one-on-one counseling to address your specific issues and behaviors as they relate to drug abuse. A substance abuse professional at an inpatient rehab center generally works with you while you're staying at the treatment center. However, they may also follow you afterwards if they also have an outpatient practice.
Inpatient treatment centers have several benefits:
- You get intensive treatment from a team of substance abuse professionals.
- Because you are attending groups with the people you're living with in rehab, counselors can assist when you have a problem with someone else in the program.
- For the same reason, you get a chance to develop skills in resolving conflicts without the use of drugs.
- There is always a counselor, M.D. or staff member there to assist you and help monitor your behavior, whenever you need them.
- You are a captive audience. You can't leave therapy and go get a fix. Unless you escape the center, you are committed to staying there until your treatment period has ended.
There are also a few disadvantages of inpatient treatment:
- You live for 1-2 months or longer in an artificial environment where you always have help and drugs aren't readily available. Going back to the real world can be devastating to your sobriety.
- You have to take a break from work or school, so it's difficult to keep your drug abuse problem private.
- You may miss out on work promotions or even lose your job because you're away so long.
- Except for visiting hours, you're separated from your social network and the ones you loved. It's likely if you have children they won't be allowed on the rehab unit at all.
- Inpatient treatment can be costly, especially if your insurance doesn't pay the full cost.
Inpatient rehab isn't for everyone, and even when it is right for you, you may need additional help after you leave substance abuse treatment centers.
Benefits of outpatient programs include:
In addition to local outpatient program, you can find help with a substance abuse counselor online.
Online counselors can help you in several ways:
- You have complete privacy to discuss your unique issues.
- Some online substance abuse programs include an opportunity for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- You can attend counseling sessions from any location, whether it is in the comfort of your own home or when you're away on a business trip.
- Online counselors can help you manage your substance abuse disorder after you leave a residential treatment facility.
- A legitimate online program includes sessions with a certified substance abuse counselor.
- No matter how long you've been clean, you may fall back into substance abuse again, so it's helpful to have an online substance abuse professional available when you need them without waiting a long time for an appointment.
Finding the Right Treatment
Many people are strictly limited as to which inpatient treatment programs they can enter due to which of them their insurance covers. So, make sure you approve treatment through insurance. Your primary care doctor can refer you to an inpatient program or an outpatient substance abuse counselor.
For online treatment, getting the help you need can be as easy as doing a search, clicking a few buttons and setting up an appointment. However, not all online counselors are legitimate or skilled in assessing and treating substance abuse issues.
Be sure to do some research beyond finding their site. Go to other sites to see reviews or get recommendations from people you know. If the counseling site has additional substance abuse information to read, assess that information for accuracy and thoroughness Helpful and detailed information on their site can be a sign that they know the subject well.
Once you find a counselor to try, get to know them for one or two sessions. If your personalities clash or you feel they can't help you, it's sometimes best to ask for another counselor. However, be sure you aren't blaming the counselor because you don't want to give up your preferred substance. When you find that perfect match between yourself and a substance abuse professional, commit to staying in treatment for the long hall.
There is indeed life after substance abuse. You can start now by connecting with a counselor at BetterHelp.com. Therapy programs can help you assess the seriousness of your problem and get you started towards a better life. They can work with you if you're just finishing up rehab or if you haven't yet decided you need to go. Best of all, they can be there for you whenever you're grappling with substance abuse.